It has been said that where two or three gather, there Love is with them.
This is what I know of the valet lobby at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The Love that emulates from this special space is sacred.
I see this Love in the eyes of the valet workers. A Love that doesn’t translate through their lips for most don’t speak fluent English, but words are the least effective means of loving another and so instead it translates through their gestures, smiles, and their kindness. This is a Love that has no value as I tip as much as I can and yet it seems so little.
Love that rushes out of the elevator, having just waited too long to get in, to deliver a tin “Christmas Penguin” filled with Chocolate (who was the intended destination for this gift?) again, without words, but just a smile. He gently props it between the contents of the wheelchair, leaning it up against my son’s wrapped, sleeping body.
Love that glances at this puddle I push, a messy pile of blankets and stuffed animals, pale skin and just the tip of a bald head poking out the top. Love that grabs my eyes and without having ever met me, makes promises to pray for me.
Love that is so filled with compassion – not dismissively so, but committed. In just seconds when our eyes will move to other things she will not soon forget. She WILL go home and pray. And she will pray tomorrow too, I know it.
But right now, in this moment, as Love’s gaze connects with mine, I feel my strength and contrived fearlessness dissolving like it was never meant to be there to begin with. That “Momma Strength” that is the scaffolding of a fragile structure – the only thing that holds things upright or moves things forward when they are too weak to move at all.
Dissolving and as it goes, relenting fear and deep sadness rush in, both months in the making and the holding and the denying; and also come tears that, typically, I am so careful to hide from those who depend on me: from everyone.
In that moment, Love sees me.
She sees my heartache and fear.
She sees my confidence and my hopelessness.
She sees my long day and my longer nights.
She sees the gray hairs that have doubled their numbers on my head in just seven short months.
She sees my heart that has spent time wondering how I could function if my child dies.
She sees exactly how fragile I am, despite the stoic smile I’ve come to offer.
Love sees me and, in the split second before I drop my eyes in humility, she mouths these words:
You. Are. Brave.
And, because Love said it, I know that it must be true. Because she sees me and STILL called me brave.
Because I am so very afraid and yet I am here, pushing this wheelchair, whispering encouragement to my medicated child, preparing and prepared for what will come.
I am brave because, being brave includes fear and denial and tears and heartache and hope and hopelessness and confidence and wondering about the finality of death. Brave moves forward, not in spite of these, but with them.
I did not know this, but Love certainly does.
This is what I learned from Love, whom I meet in the Valet Lobby of Dana Farber.