Published author, leadership and organizational development mentor, inspirational speaker, advocate for cold noses as healers combining spiritual intelligence with leadership proficiencies to architect a bridge between voices, across cultures, across nations, across distance and space
For the audio version:
Fear spreads quickly. So does hope – Author Unknown
The words displayed on a sign as I traveled through the airport recently. Fear spreads quickly.
So does hope.
It is my second time traveling since each of us came to an individually personal, yet also collective on the grandest of scales, crossroads in which life split to the left in the direction of what we had known and to the right in a direction of no longer the same.
For many, if not all of us, coming to a pandemic crossroads is not the first life-altering experience. Sure, it might be easy to react with the thought certainly not of this magnitude. And yet, if we practice what the cold-nosed co-authors of HHCN do well, which is not to judge or compare, the greatest magnitude of impact is what is happening for that person experiencing a stand at the juncture between how life was known “before” and life “never to be the same”.
Recently I was blessed to write an additional story of hope in response to my request:
In a few moments you will be able to read about Erin and Lucy, a story of the greatest unconditional love. Of profound grief. Of courageous resilience. A story of hope and healing to cascade ripples far and wide. A dear stranger who gave me the sacred gift of trusting me with her heart, that her story could be the pages in someone else’s survival guide.
Her crossroads moment, not just once. Not twice. But three times. Once, when she heard I’m sorry, the results are positive. She has cancer. A second time when she let go for her tiny thirty-five-pound best friend to become her guardian angel above. A third time when she heard the words positive and cancer.
Not all crossroad moments are the mile markers of our pain, trauma, sorrow, despair, or grief. Crossroad moments are getting the call that at long last the wait is over, and training begins next week with
Hope in the form of a cold nose.
A service dog team in the making about to begin.
Crossroad moments are also when hands-on experience reminds us that kindness to strangers still runs as rampant as the requirement to wear a mask and remain 6-feet apart.
On one of my flights, I was addressing postcards that feature Hope Has a Cold Nose to continue to spread the word for twenty-three extraordinary co-authors who certainly know crossroad moments! I also love to leave positive notes for strangers, including stewards and stewardesses, so I decided to cascade two positives. One was to write on a postcard my appreciation for the stewardess taking such good care of us all after one of her significant crossroads moments when she couldn’t work and is now working in a whole new way. The other was to recruit her in paying forward hope by having her tell at least one other person about HHCN.
I left the now filled out postcard on my seat and started down the corridor after deplaning. Suddenly a very kind gentleman rushed up behind me to let me know that I had dropped one of my postcards and it remained on the seat. As my eyes smiled, his eyes smiled in return as he said with a knowing tone, or maybe it was intentional. As I was confirming for this kind stranger that it was intentional, I heard another sweet shout from behind hey, ma’am, you dropped this, as a second dear stranger holding the postcard was trying to get my attention. As I laughed and told her I had left the postcard on the seat on purpose, bless this dear stranger’s heart, she immediately starts to turn with the thought she would push back against the deplaning crowd and put it back in the seat. I stopped her, for at that split second juncture, what I knew most of all is that the postcard was now in the hands of the person who was meant to read it. And I let her know that as I thanked her for her kindness in looking out for me.
Yes, fear spreads quickly. We are exposed to external messaging on a continual basis that tries to fuel the ways in which we should fear. But, ah, oh so much so what also spreads quickly is
Every second in life offers a crossroads moment in which we can allow life to be what was and no longer the same.
It is in how we choose to hear and see.
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. – Albert Einstein
ERIN AND LUCY
Sometimes I just look up, smile, and say: “I know that was you, thank you!” – Author Unknown
Of course it is mom! Each and every time, and even the times you are not looking up, but I am beside you just the same. When it was my time to leave Earth, you whispered in my ear “come back to me, soon, please!” Making you happy was always the best part of being me.
So, your guardian angel I am, your reminder you could when you were not sure you had the strength to fight. I knew you did, for I knew that though you, too, experienced cancer, it was not your time to take flight. You still had purpose to fulfill on Earth, and I hear you ponder what that may be. Oh, my dear mom, if only you could see you as I do, your light the world needs.
Hey mom, speaking of your journey with breast cancer there is something I’d like to share with you if I may. I will forewarn you I might get a little chocked up in what I wish to say. I was so proud of you the day you helped me end my pain. It was a doozy mom, the pain from the cancer collapsing my rib cage. Barely two years as your teacher about how to love unconditionally. You are a quick study, mom, learning that unconditional love isn’t always about what – or who – we can keep. Sometimes the greatest acts of love are in letting go of what we want or need for the greatest good of the one we love more than anything.
I could feel pieces of your heart cracking and breaking as the reality of letting me go was starting to penetrate like a stabbing knife. I was trying to reach the core of your heart with the whisper from my soul “it will be alright”. I wanted to stop your pain as much as you wanted to help my pain go away, too. We have always been in sync like that, me and you. Wanting the best for each other ahead of our own wishes or needs. And feeling the exact same thing as the other at the same time – then again, that is how soul mates are, don’t you think?
A part of me really wanted to stay with you. It felt a little too early to leave – after all, I was only two. My soul knew it was time, though, having fulfilled the purpose I was meant to achieve. I was only meant to be with you a short time, a paving the way or a planting of a seed.
We both know one of those seeds was to love the color pink so that when you were having a fighting match with breast cancer you would see pink and know I was walking beside you on your journey. You know – that looking up, smiling, and knowing thing you mentioned in the beginning. Knowing that space does not separate me from you, you from me.
I entered life with my soul knowing I had a big responsibility. I may have been small in size, but the mission I carried was mighty. I had made an agreement with your soul of what I was supposed to teach. My soul was so excited that I would be leading you to your new beginnings. I think of it like a baby swan who is nestled inside the egg in safe keep. Until a certain moment from somewhere deep this little swan decided it needs to break free. It isn’t easy, the pecking away at the encased shell of armor that holds this swan in hiding. Sure, for you and me, we think an eggshell is fragile, but think about if we had an equally fragile still forming beak. For this little swan, it is a very big endeavor when it decides to step into the light.
Equivalent to a beautiful soul who journeys through biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy to bravely, boldly, and radiantly step into flourishing with life.
Mom, my soul was excited, but I have to say. The canine in me had a moment in which I wanted to stay. I guess that is another way us soul mates feel exactly the same way.
When you whispered, “wait for me at the bridge”, for a split second I wanted to shout, “come with me”. I thought it a time or two, also, when you were walking the darkest moments of your cancer journey. My soul knew it was all happening as it was supposed to, as I know your soul knew it too, at least somewhere deep. Yet, to be inhabiting these vessels of fur and humanness to experience life is not always easy. Mom, I gotta tell you, up here as Guardian Angel does bring a level of simplicity. But, then again, I wouldn’t trade my time on Earth I had with you for anything!
Life – and unconditional love – work in mysterious and yet perfect ways. We cannot now the purest, deepest, greatest, most compassionate and uplifting love if we don’t experience what it means to lose. We cannot know faith, trust, courage, strength, or hope, either, if we do not know what it is to be afraid, doubt, and uncertainty, too.
Mom, I never did ask you how you picked my name. Then again, there could have been no other name in that nothing is coincidence way. Lucy means “Light”, and mom, your name means “Peace”. Soul mates who represent light and peace – exactly what the world needs!
I may be an angel not readily seen by anyone but you, but that doesn’t mean that together we can’t still be a team in what we do. Mom, I think we had to crumble and shatter the foundation we knew so that I could help you build anew. Your grief and your cancer journey hold wisdom for others in what they might go – or are going – through. An entire world has felt a crumbling of their foothold, and you know what it is to lose that which meant the most to you.
Lead the way mom…lead people through.
Mom, please never forget that I am – and will always be – your best friend by your side. Anytime you wonder, just look up, smile, and yep, it’s me each and every time.
If you have enjoyed this story, please pay it forward. That is how the ripples of hope cascade. Namaste’.