Today in my travels...
I was lost in my thoughts- thinking about my mother-in-law, Irene, who had surgery today, running errands and preparing for our vacation. I stopped to get gas in my minivan at the SuperAmerica Station in Blaine, Minnesota.
I leaned against my vehicle- taking a breath and taking in the sunshine and blue sky of this beautiful, summer day. Lined up around me, other drivers were filling their cars- talking on cell phones, watching the numbers clicking off on the pumps, enjoying the scenery.... so often- we are all just a part of the scenery....
When my tank was full, the pump spit out a slip of paper and I ripped it off. I got into my van, tucking the receipt and my debit card into my purse. I clicked my seatbelt into place and had just started the ignition when someone tapped on my half-open window.
I turned to see a young man, maybe 18 years old, standing there beside me, "Excuse me," he said.
I turned down my radio. "Yes?" My first thoughts were that I had forgotten to replace my gas cap or I had left my fuel door hanging wide open or....
He just stood there looking at me and said, "Can I ask you a question?"
I looked at him more closely, "Ok?"
"Do you have cancer?" he asked.
"Yes, I do."
"Can I ask what kind of cancer you have?"
"I have breast cancer."
He told me his father came from a large family. His dad had twelve siblings and ten of his aunts have breast cancer. "They have the breast cancer gene." He said, "How about you? Does your family have it?"
"No," I said, "I'm the only one...They didn't know, actually wasted a lot of time trying to figure it out. My cancer was in my bones when they found it.... At least your family knows what to look for, I guess..." My ramblings sounded like ramblings to my own ears. I don't have a silver lining to share with him, though I wanted one...with all my heart. I let my voice trail off.
He heard my heart and nodded, "We need a cure."
I agreed, "Yes, we do."
From the backdrop of an ordinary, beautiful day- this young man appeared. He saw me. He approached me. He stood beside me bearing witness to the cancer that strikes the women in our lives. I did not know this man and yet.... he felt known. A few moments of silence passed between us, as comfortably as those shared with the friends we have known forever. I felt tears in my eyes- not of sadness, but born of hope, because standing before me was proof that two people- in this confusing, compassionate, crazy, violent, loving, beautiful world- had raised their child well....
"Would it be ok," he asked, "if I give you a hug?"
I unbuckled my seatbelt,
opened the door,
stepped out onto the asphalt
and into his arms...