A Thousand Cranes

A Thousand Cranes

The diagnosis came after months of denial.

Months of pretending I was okay, that the weight gain was just me aging and not a grapefruit sized tumor taking over my insides.

Sitting in my hospital bed, I laid back against the pillows, wishing for more time even though I knew once the sand slipped through the hourglass, there was no flipping it over.

“Anna, how are you feeling today?” My favorite nurse, Lisa wandered into my room, ready to take my vitals for what would end up feeling like the hundredth time of the day.

“You know, about the same.” I tried not to share my depression and loneliness with anyone, but she gave me a look that told me she knew I was lying.

“The only way you’re ever going to beat this thing is to believe you will, you know?” she replied, her motherly southern twang making me feeling even crappier.

“You see enough stuff. Don’t need mine to clutter your shelf, too.”

“Hey, this is the part of my job I like.” Winking at me, she patted my leg as she left my room, commenting that she might have something that would cheer me up.

I sat and mindlessly watched another episode of Judge Judy, trying to sleep off the pain the meds didn’t manage to contain. I must have dozed off because I woke up to a cacophony of high pitched voices coming from the hallway.

“Miss Anna, Miss Anna,” I heard shouted from the doors, as they swung open. Lisa stood trying to corral my sixth grade music class, who each appeared to be carrying a tote bag.

There were my fifteen students, huddled around my room with huge grins on each of their faces.

Lisa stood before them all, telling each of them to open their bags.

Suddenly my room was filled with an eruption of color. Paper origami cranes tumbled out of my kid’s bags, in every size, and color.

“Your principal called me, letting me know that they wanted to participate in the Cranes for Cancer project. Each of your students and quite a few parents and teachers all folded these for you.” She handed me one bag filled with the multi-colored birds.

“Miss Anna, did you know that there’s a Japanese tradition that says if you give someone a thousand cranes it will bring them good luck?” Sarah, the smart and often tattle-tale of the group said, looking extremely proud of herself for knowing this.

I couldn’t help the tears that flowed down my cheeks as child after child handed me their bags of cranes. My emotions couldn’t be contained; I was so touched by their gesture and hugged each of them fiercely as they gave me their offering.

The room was filled with the joyful buzz that only children can bring to you.

Lisa returned, placing a small CD player on my table, and told me the kids had wanted me to hear the concert I’d missed because of my illness. They all sat on the floor around my bed as we listened to their often off-key attempt at playing a medley of holiday tunes. I clapped enthusiastically for their performance once the CD ended.

We all talked for a while and I repeatedly inquired if they were being kind to my substitute, Miss Taylor. I was regaled by various stories and mishaps that had occurred in my absence, but seeing them all together made me remember why I was here and had undergone the surgery and subsequent chemo I’d be dealing with for months.

These kids and music were my life.

Before they headed off towards the bus, I told them all that I would be there to see their spring concert in a few months. There was one thing I always did, and that was fulfill my promises. Making that vow, I knew I’d fight my ass off to survive this disease, or at the very least the next few months.

“Feel better?” whispered Lisa, tucking the blanket back up around my body.

“Much,” I replied honestly, sitting up I gave her a hug she didn’t see coming. “You’re really good at your job. Thank you.”

Smiling, she didn’t comment. Just hugged me back and left the room. Leaving me to reflect on the fight I had ahead of me.

Thanks to Kimmydonn for betaing this for me. Much appreciated.

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