There is no dramatic footage and you won’t see it shared by any news stations, but there was another “cancer parade” that preceded the cheering faces lining 175th. This parade was much quieter (except for our barking dogs), hidden to most, and it stretched out over months. Six months to be exact. It included participants from as far away as Colorado, New York and Florida. And as long as cancer persisted, so did this parade.
This other parade was a much more labor and time intensive affair, and it certainly cost a small fortune to produce. And this parade was given not just for Mercy but for all the Haubs (and often the grandparents too).
This parade arrived at the end of our dead-end street every night around 5:30pm, bringing a steady stream of foil baking dishes, grocery bags of produce, cupcakes and cookies, and Tupperware and pyrex in abundance. There were touching cards and beautiful flowers and the occasional bottle of wine that were also brought, and always there was a masked human face on the other side of the isolation chasm saying “I see you”, “We are here for you”, “You can do this”.
It’s called a Meal Train, and there’s a website bearing that name to more easily coordinate what churches and neighbors and communities have organically done for ages when babies are born, or when husbands die. Before we ever had a cancer diagnosis, my co-worker asked: “Would this be helpful?” Her initiative in asking and follow-through in creating opened the floodgates of generosity, compassion and mercy that would carry us for the next six months.
When we are interviewed, everyone wants to hear about how it felt to turn the corner that Saturday morning and behold the outpouring of support on our way to Mercy’s final chemo. And those images will always be magnificently burned into our collective memory. But last week I sorted through the stacks and stashes of Tupperware and containers and felt like the disciples sorting through the twelve baskets of miraculous leftovers. And I wept.
So. Much. Grace.
When Mercy was very young, she exclaimed in delight one morning: “Mommy, I had a miracle!” She had taken a few bagels we had been gifted and she had covered the entire dining room table with little leftover paper desert plates, each plate holding one small piece of bagel. And she had reveled in the abundance.
Mercy, I think we had another miracle.
Image, The Miracle of The Five Loaves and Two Fish, by Grace Carol Bomer, https://gracecarolbomer.com/artwork/4391082-The-Miracle-of-The-Five-Loaves-and-Two-Fish.html