Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a lady I met named Robin. The encounter was the life-altering kind, one that changed me more than it changed her.
Robin would disagree.
In the post, I asked y’all to reach out and send Robin encouragement. If you haven’t read about Robin, please take a moment to do so here. As you can imagine, she has been on my mind lately and as the days ticked over into weeks I became more concerned. Each morning, a Robin-red-breast appeared outside my kitchen widow, quite rare for my house, unless it is about to rain. I sensed that the bird was a reminder to pray, and I have. Each time the bird lights on a limb I lift up my friend.
And then her letter came.
I unfolded the purple paper and read her words written with purple ink in a beautiful, artful exhibit of penmanship. Robin has been unable to write due to neuropathy in her hands and fingers. She wrote about being human, being sad, and doing her best to stay strong. She asked about my mother, told me that she had lost a friend on March 28th, but quickly changed the tone of the letter to thanksgiving.
Dear Ones, Robin is so very thankful for everything you have done. Please allow me to share her words:
“Every card, letter, and gift brought me tears (literally) of joy, hope and strength and I will answer all in time. They were all filled with prayers, blessings, and so much love.”
By the second paragraph, I was crying. Weeping actually, with gratitude for the legion of friends who simply mailed a card, invested a moment of their time, sent a scripture to a complete stranger.
Robin’s letter continued, “I have prayed for so long (more desperately this past year), for help-resources, connections, and means to live my last dream to print and publish a book of my poems. Thirteen years ago, the door was closed, but alas I have hope…I have never felt such a profound spiritual uplifting in my life. The Lord has send earth angels to walk a ways with me, and perhaps to lead me through the door to my last dream (publishing her book of poems).”
Dear Ones, I can’t speak for you, but I feel like we’ve had a little bit of church, don’t you?
Today, right now, if you are reading this on Tuesday, April 15th, our sweet friend Robin is enduring a bi-lateral total mastectomy. This surgery is going to set her back for who knows how long. But I really want to figure out a way to get her book of poems published. The manuscript is handwritten on purple paper with purple ink and is on 8 and ½ by 11 legal pads. Does anyone have suggestions? Of course I think big, so I would also like a way for y’all to buy copies of her book, but that is a long-term goal. Already, an anonymous reader has offered to help make this happen. What are your thoughts about just copying her hand-written work and binding it into an 8 and ½ by 11 sized book?
The most important thing is to pray her through the surgery and then we will focus on making her publication dream come through.
This, Dear Ones, is what happens when we reach out to a complete stranger. While they may think we are changing their life, it sure feels like they change ours. Doesn’t it feel good?
About Renea: Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com.