If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near’, and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the LORD against you, and you would incur guilt. Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’ --- Deuteronomy 15:7-11
I haven’t talked about this very much. I guess it makes me both embarrassed and proud at the same time. But mostly it makes me thankful. And I haven’t said “Thank You” nearly enough.
Sometime in the middle of the summer, our insurance gave out. We had exhausted our savings, I hadn’t worked for months, and the coverage I had from my job could not be extended any longer. Mrs. P went to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs I needed for my second round of chemo, and they turned her away. We could pay retail, (about $6000 for the month, as I recall) or we could go without. I posted a brief note on Facebook to the effect that there would be no more medicine since there was no more money.
A friend of mine, Alicia read that status and felt called to action. She contacted a handful of people with whom I had worked in the theatre here in Lexington and asked if there wasn’t something they could do to help. In just a few days, they had contacted every theatre I had ever worked for in town, and several I had not. Our church agreed to administer the funds. Together, they organized benefit performances in my name where money was raised for a medical fund in my name. Our paper’s arts editor, whom I have ruthlessly harassed as an “evil critic” for years wrote a very kind article in the Herald-Leader and posted the address where people could contribute. The acting companies of all three shows produced by SummerFest, the company with whom I first acted in Lexington dedicated their closing night performances to me. The very first fundraiser was held by Actors’ Guild, the theatre company that brought me here back in 1994. Checks came in from old friends and people I had never met. People wrote kind notes, remembering things we had said or done together that had affected their lives. We even got letters from people from out of town who had heard our story from friends and wanted to help.
People prayed for us. People I didn’t know prayed at all. Phone calls from old friends offering to help, bring dinner, do chores became a regular occurrence. Meals would appear on the porch. The lawn would be magically mowed or the hedges trimmed.
One day, after one of these acts of generosity, Mum looked at me with tears in her eyes. “People are so kind,” she said. “I had no idea you had made such an impact here.”
Neither had I.
Thank you for all the kindness. Thanks for the audio books and the tomato dill soup. Thanks for checking in, lending me books, and sitting with me so Mrs. P could get out of the house. Thank you for saying such encouraging things and for recalling such lovely memories. I have always paid lip service to love, but really had no idea how much there was in the world or what a difference it could make. I am convinced that you helped to save my life. Thank you.
I also learned a lesson that’s worth sharing. You have no idea how you are affecting the people you meet every day. The moment you take to speak a kind word may lift them up for years. You make more of a difference than you can imagine. I don’t want to get all George Bailey on you, but you really are better off alive than dead. You are worth more than you know to more people than you can count. I hope you don’t have to get sick to find that out, but I hope someday you feel what I have felt from the people who love and care for me.
And if someone needs to know that you love them, for God’s sake don’t wait till they get cancer to do something about it. There’s no telling how much they need the healing touch of your heart. Give it to them. You’ll get it back when you least expect it.
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