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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brenda

On a lovely day in October of last year, we found ourselves headed to an appointment at University of Colorado Hospital. As a transplant patient, Trent has a higher chance of getting skin cancer, or other types of cancer, than the average bear. We needed to go in for an annual skin-cancer screening. Since it was early afternoon, we were worried that we wouldn't be able to find a parking space. If you have never gone to a clinic visit at UCH, let me tell you that finding a parking spot can be a challenge. I told Trent not to worry;  I would simply engage my "parking Zen" (complete with ritual smoothly flowing hand gestures) to get us a good spot. When we got there, I would hop in the driver's seat and park the car.

As it happened, I found a spot within seconds of getting behind the wheel. I managed to park the car, use the restroom, and get to the clinic before Trent did. When we got into the clinic, the receptionist said we were a week early for the appointment. I just had to laugh. We had enjoyed a nice ride, and parking was easy. No big deal. We decided to stop by the transplant clinic with some questions, and the afternoon was still young when we were finished there.

I suggested that we stop by one of the hospital gift shops; they had a purse that I had had my eye on for a while. Since it was less than twenty dollars, I decided to go in and buy it. Trent found something that caught his attention, and I wandered around looking at a few things. A display of knitted shawl-type scarves caught my eye. One was displayed on a mannequin bust over a t-shirt, and I saw a pricetag that said twenty dollars. Woohoo! These scarves were so lovely. Some had a large button fastener, and the others had a flower, along with sort of a tunnel on the back that you could run the other end of the scarf through to fasten it.

I just had to get a closer look. There was a lady in an electric scooter/wheelchair in front of the table, so I walked around to the other end to look at them more closely. The flower version came in purple, my favorite color, but I was undecided. Being the kind of person I am, I asked the lady in the scooter which one she liked better. She looked a tiny bit surprised, but smiled and pointed at the purple scarf with the flower. This pleased me immensely, and I thanked her for her help. She smiled at me again, and reached for her electronic voicebox device. Again, being who I am, I was unfazed. We chatted for a while about the scarves and how she wanted to get one for her daughter-in-law but wasn't sure if she would like it. She asked me what the price was, and then I saw that the price was not twenty dollars, but closer to fifty. I said, "Well, you're sitting down, I'll show you the price tag. It's a bit too much for my budget, unfortunately."

After helping her decide about some decorative items, I moved on to find Trent and my little purse, and pay for our purchases. When we were heading toward the door I saw that my friend was standing up with the purple scarf in her arms. "I found myself a purse," I told her. "Are you getting one of the scarves?" She motioned for me to come over to her and thrust the scarf and a fifty-dollar bill into my hands. "I want you to have this, and I won't take no for an answer." Trent and I were stunned and said we couldn't possibly accept. We both burst into tears at her generosity and she hugged me and said that she really wanted me to have the scarf, and that maybe some day I could do something for someone who had no voice. "You DO have a voice, it is in your lovely heart!" I replied.

The three of us talked for a few minutes and shared our names. Then Brenda said something that nearly broke my heart. "I am dying of cancer. The doctors are just using experimental drugs on me now because they know I can never get better." I thanked her for her kindness and told her that the scarf would become a treasured possession. "This scarf will be named Brenda. I will pass it along later in my life along with the story of how it got a name. And I will think of you every time I look at it." By the time we finished talking, I noticed that everyone in the gift shop had stopped what they were doing to watch us. I don't think that there was a dry eye in the group.

Dear Brenda, I hope you had some idea how much your kindness affected me. I have thought of you often, and if you are no longer among us, I am sure that you are enjoying your beautiful heavenly voice. Thank you for letting me learn how much I can touch someone's heart by the simple act of treating them just like everyone else. My brief time with you is a memory I will always love.