This kid came knocking at our door – sending our dog into hysterics – during the tail end of winter last year. (I take the liberty of calling him a kid because I am a good 20 years older than he is, not because he doesn’t deserve the utmost respect.) As was customary at the time, I grabbed a winter beanie to cover my bald head not knowing who I would find when I opened the door or how cold the blast of air might be. Oh, how we take for granted the warmth our hair provides.
I opened the door and bristled slightly upon seeing the logo on his jacket for a well-known window company. I hadn’t wanted to get up from under my warm blanket for an encounter like the one that I thought was about to take place, but as I looked up at the nervousness and youth on his face, I softened and swallowed my preemptive No, thank you.
He went on to deliver his spiel – a bit too quickly perhaps – as I considered for a moment what I might be getting myself into by agreeing to an appointment for a free estimate. (Lord knows our windows are drafty as hell at each over a century old.) Then I thought about my looming final round of chemo and the time it would take me to recover from such an endeavor. I don’t remember if I sighed audibly, but there was a moment when I had to buy myself some time in order to decide what to confess to this kid. This was a moment I had become all too familiar with last winter. Do I let the cat out of the bag? Can the person handle it or is it selfish of me to put this on them?
In the end, I decided to go for it. What the heck! I explained that I was going through chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer and that I had one more infusion in a couple of days, but he could put me down for a visit from an estimator as early as April.
I must admit I was surprised by the severity of his reaction. He asked if he could hug me. Hug me? I hesitantly obliged wondering where a male 20-something-year-old knocking on strangers’ doors gets the gumption to ask a 40-something-year-old mother he doesn’t know if he can hug her. As we separated, he started to make his confession: His aunt was desperately trying to stave off her own breast cancer. His family was holding out hope that the tides would turn and she would pull through but things didn’t look good.
I don’t remember what else was said exactly (thanks, chemo brain), but what I do remember is that on a cold day at the end of February, this kid filled me with hope and encouragement that warmed me to my core. As we hugged one more time, I asked him what his name was and he said, “My name is Jack.”
One hot afternoon this summer, we returned home to find a note stuck to our front door:
Hello, my name is Jack. I wanted to leave this note for the mother of the home. You may not remember, but I stopped by sometime in March as a canvaser (solicitor). This was one of my first territories I knocked, and I just wanted to tell you it was my last day. I remember meeting you, you had so much joy and happiness in you that it had impacted my whole day, even the way I viewed my life. I’m happy to know you survived 🙂 I was gonna say hi and catch up, but you weren’t home. You’re probably out celebrating each day of your life and the lives of your family. I hope you take care and that you always share your happiness with others. God bless 🙂
We so very rarely know how we impact others – positively or negatively. We are taught to be polite from the moment we start speaking. Always please and thank you. But when are we taught to put manners aside and stop holding each other at arm’s length? Believe me, there were very awkward times when I lifted my beanie, divulged my secret, and was met with a blank stare or an eyebrow raise that implied TMI, lady. I have always been intrigued by varying levels of honesty and my cancer card was like a license to experiment a little. Jack made me glad that I took a chance on him, and that he was willing to take a chance on me.
(You can read more about our first encounter here).
Unfortunately, Jack didn’t leave any contact information and Renewal by Andersen told me they have no way of tracking him down. All I have is this note. I look at it often. Because sometimes when we doubt ourselves, we just need to look around at the confidence others have in us.
Thank you, Jack, for setting the bar a little higher. I will try to live up to it.