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Thank You Notes

My new sister-in-law, like my mom, is big on thank you notes. When I was in Florence three years ago, I bought her some hand-made thank you notes at a quaint, little stationery store called Il Papiro. (After receiving them, she immediately wrote me a thank you note for the thank you notes.)

My mom is also big on thank you notes. In fact, she’s huge on thank you notes. When I was a teenager, I used to tease her: “If they made you’re welcome cards, I’m sure you’d send those, too. She’s been scouring stationery shops for a box of those ever since.

After my mastectomy and during chemo, I kept a detailed journal of the kind and generous things people did for me. I wanted to remember who had cooked us lasagne, who had sent us gerber daisies, who had brought me a bag of Kiehl’s bath products, who had simply called or stopped in front of my driveway to say I’m thinking about you .

I also kept the journal to make sure that I knew who had sent what so I could send thank you notes. I know of three that I forgot: One to my Uncle Bruno for the roses he sent (I just found that thank you note in a stack of papers); one to my friend Lucy for the spaghetti dinner she made us while her own mom was ill; one to my friends Garrett and Susan and their kids for the lavish basket of comfort food and bath items they brought by one evening. (Remember the scene in A Christmas Story where the main character puts a basket of exotic fruit on the desk of his teacher in the hopes of getting an A on his essay? The Garrett’s basket was way more luscious than that, and they weren’t even hoping for an A.) I’ve since verbally thanked those people, but it’s just not like sending a thank you note. Ask my sister-in-law or my mom.

So this Thanksgiving, I'm writing a thank you note. It's actually just the beginning of one, as I have many people to thank. But it's a start.

Thank you

Ocho. For your unbelievable and unconditional love.

Dad. For carefully and tenderly tending to my post-surgery wounds and letting yourself be vulnerable with me when I decided to be depressed instead of stoic.

Mom. For comforting and soothing me like a little girl and making sure I didn't have to think about home details for a solid month.

Mike . For only being 14, but asking me after every single appointment, “How’d it go, Mom?”

Katie. For laughing and crying with me in the Nordstrom dressing room and in my closet.

Dennis. For being present and for striking an impossible but perfect balance between humor and love.

...Jen. For being my friend and making me feel strong when I didn’t feel strong.

...Jan and Lee. For being far away but making sure you were close to my heart.

Danny. For being the kind of ex who would unquestioningly spend the night with me in the hospital.

Jessica. For being more than understanding.

...Sam. For knowing what to say and for saying it--always--with love, grace, compassion and irony :)

Andrea and Tori. For going with me to all those appointments (biopsy, surgery planning, MRI, chemo, oncologist), having a warm buttered croissant waiting for me afterward, making sure my kids and I had dinners on chemo weeks (a huge organizational task), and keeping me laughing and thinking.

Joanne. For being mindfully present during a time in her life when she should have been simply absent.

Anne. For coming out to California to be with me after my parents left, and for filling a strange period in my life with love and laughter.

To be continued…

Comes a time
when you're driftin'
Comes a time
when you settle down
Comes a light
feelin's liftin'
Lift that baby
right up off the ground.

Oh, this old world
keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees
ain't layin' down
There comes a time.

You and I, we were captured
We took our souls
and we flew away
We were right
we were giving
That's how we kept
what we gave away.

Oh, this old world
keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees
ain't layin' down
There comes a time…

PS: The photo is of "gratitude leaves" left on a rock in Bali


Sherry said…
Beautiful verse and beautiful thanks. They all "know" but it's so heart warming for them to see it. That's why we value sending thank you cards so much (it's huge with me too!).

As for the 3 you forgot to send, my goodness for the number you probably did send, I think only missing 3 is pretty good.

If you aren't on again tomorrow, I wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving my friend!
Sherry said…
And if you could do me a favour and send me an'll find my email address in my profile. Thanks!
Jenster said…
What a fabulous post, Jill. We have so much to be thankful for, don't we?
KT said…
Hi Jill, I come from a "thank-you" family too. My mother had us writing thank-yous on Christmas Day, usually before lunch! One July, she found out that my (then 22-year-old) sister had not written her Xmas thank-yous.....poor Susie! She was hounded until she caved. I of course had mailed mine before New Year's ;-)

Anyway, it is a difficult feat, keeping up with thank-yous during treatment. I think in this situation, people don't expect a note. But like you, I figure why not let them know how much their gesture meant? I tried to keep up, even wrote thank-yous while in the chemo chair, but fell behind.

My solution: When I send out my Xmas/holiday cards I'll write a little something about what that person/family did. Maybe that would work for you?

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. As Jen says, we do have so much to be thankful for. It is kind of nice, knowing there are so many people out there we have to thank....means we didn't do this alone. Take care, Katie
lahdeedah said…
Sherry, Jen, Katie...

You're right: We have so much to be thankful for! I am so fortunate to have "too many" thank you notes to write. I actually got to them all, but when last Christmas came around, I was out of steam. So I skipped Christmas cards entirely and sent out Valentines instead. It's become a new tradition with me :) Email me your addresses so I can put you on my Valentines list where you belong...

Sherry said…
love this idea...Katie's is good to mention people in the holiday cards, but sometimes it's hard to sit down and do those...valentine's is a perfect time to say thanks, I love you!!! I'll send you my email...I think this is a fabulous tradition for us b.c. babes!!! Jill you could put together a list and share it with all of us!!

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