farmers market for a cure

It’s a hot night in Waleska, Georgia, as it is most places the country right now.

This evening my husband and I were heading back to our borrowed sabbatical home near a lake in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains when we passed by a small farmers market being held behind an old Baptist Church with a ‘for sale’ sign at the corner of Hyw 5 and Hwy 108. Les asked if I’d like to go and I said, “Why not? What else do we have to do tonight?!” That’s one of the beauties of sabbatical, not having any thing you have to do or any place you have to be! He swung the car into the gas station caddy corner to the church to run in and get cash from the ATM.

We turned the car around and drove the 300 or so feet across to the church and parked our car. Man, it was hot!

There were maybe 10 booths arranged in a U-shape. First we came to a man selling his self-proclaimed famous BBQ sauce and home-made jams. He offered us a taste of the sauce as well as his Meyer-lemon marmalade with vanilla or blueberry jam with nutmeg and some other unusual ingredients. The next tent-booth housed a woman selling candles. We tried to pass by unnoticed but she hollered out, “Do you burn candles? Do they smell? I’ll tell you why you can’t smell them!” And she proceeded to tell me why. I smiled and said thanks and kept walking.  Burning anything was not a pleasant thought right then! If she’d been selling ice cubes she might have made a sale!

Next, there was a booth with stuffed animals made from socks – my favorite item so far. The creative little critters looked happy and friendly like characters in a Dr. Seuss book.

There were booths selling delicious looking watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, potatoes and other vegetables. One man had rose bushes and another tent had a table loaded with jewelry. We just browsed and smiled and sweated and walked. Man it was hot! The thermostat said it was 93 but that wasn’t counting the heat radiating up from the cement. It had to be at least 100, maybe hotter.

We rounded the last turn in the U past another booth selling BBQ sauce (we might have shown some interest if we hadn’t just eaten dinner!) We smiled at the man as we passed him and approached the next tent. It had colorful cupcakes arranged on a white metal cupcake stand and a hot pink boa strung along the top of the awning. Two attractive women in their late 50’s sat within and one began to explain that the flyer I saw was for a catering business her daughter owned, but that she was here raising money for the Komen Foundation. Her daughter, Natalie, was going to be walking 60 miles over 3 days and was wanting to raise $5,ooo.oo. She was up to about $2,100.00. Her mother was telling us that she thought her daughter was being a bit extreme. She’d never had cancer and about that time her daughter walked up and introduced herself to me and further explained what she was trying to do.

Natalie has two sisters. She told us that statistically, one of the three of them is likely to get cancer at some time in their life. Her mom cut in trying to say that was highly unlikely and they talked back and forth, not arguing, but trying to convince each other of their opinion. Natalie said, “Mom, you aren’t always going to be here for us. I’ll need to look out for my sisters, and I need to start now.” Wow. That was really precious.

Les and I stood there in the sweltering, sweat inducing heat taking it all in. All of a sudden I heard myself say, “I’m a two-time breast cancer survivor. I have two sisters as well. I think it’s great that you’re doing this.” I told them the cupcakes looked gorgeous, which they did, but that we just wanted to contribute to her fund as Les handed her the money he’d taken from the ATM.

Tears welled up instantly, ready to overflow their eye-lid border. Emotion that I’d apparently lost touch with jetted to the surface pressing to be released.

Natalie and her mom and the other woman sitting there were shocked and surprised and I could tell they were touched by my brief story. Natalie said she wanted to give me a hug but she was so sweaty that she shouldn’t so she sent me one across the table flinging her arms out toward me.

I thanked her as I tried to keep the emotion-controlling dam in place – wishing it would hold back the rush of tears and wails that were pressing to be released. I could feel the wall bow and just hoped I wouldn’t ‘lose it.’ All that emotion would tsunami its way out and it could get messy.

Les asked if I’d like to get a picture of us and I said that no, it was ok. I’d just remember it. I wanted to make a quick exit.

We got to the car and my face was wet with tears. They were no longer spilling but were rushing and washing and I was still fighting back the sobs. What was going on? What button got pushed? What was that all about?!

I regained some composure and said that maybe I’d like a photo with Natalie after all.

We climbed back out of the car, onto the griddle-hot pavement and walked back to Natalie’s tent. They were happy to see us and said how they were all talking about me and were still crying, wiping their eyes and sniffing. Natalie’s mother said, pointing to the giant of a man in the BBQ tent, that even he was crying! He nodded at me in agreement. Well, that got me crying again!

Natalie came around the table to get her photo taken with me under the hot pink boa and we hugged, sharing our sweat with one another and more importantly our kindred hearts for women who face this dreaded disease. Les asked if he could pray for her and she said yes. We put our arms around each other and he prayed. We said our goodbyes again and walked back to the car. We could hear them saying what a good prayer that was and all I could do was cry.

Natalie and Kris

As we were driving away, other than my sniffing we were silent.  My precious treasure of a husband just drove and didn’t press me to explain or unpack my feelings. He gave me space to sort them out, which I am still trying to do.

I think the reasons for my rush of tears are many. Some of the emotions come from the bumping open of ‘boxed-up-to-be-forgotten’ memories – those experiences so painful and sorrows and griefs so numerous that resulted from both encounters with cancer. I’d just rather leave them alone and keep moving on. But in situations like this one, those boxes get their lids bumped off and I see once again what’s inside. It’s painful to remember.

Then there are emotions that come from a two-tierd humility. The humility of having gotten cancer twice and that of having survived. It’s hard to explain, but for me it was almost like a kind of shame I had to deal with. I got the dreaded disease. I was marked with the pink ‘C’. I was one of the unlucky ones. That’s a negative type of humility.

But then there is a humility born from the gratitude of making it through, twice, when so many don’t. Like me, they fight so hard, but for whatever reason, they don’t win in the end. It makes me sad. I know that I wasn’t the reason I survived. I’m keenly aware that the prayers and fasting of thousands of friends I know and those I haven’t met yet made a difference for me. I am indebted to them as well as to my doctors who fought hard with and for me, and to my husband and children who endured with me and cared for me and pampered me. I couldn’t have survived without them. I’m a debtor. That humbles me.

Finally, there is a wave of emotion which comes from meeting people like Natalie who whole-heartedly give themselves to working hard to make a difference for the sake of others. They bake cupcakes and decorate them beautifully and sit outside for hours in the sweltering heat and sweat and sacrifice to help other people, people like me. That kind of selflessness touches me deeply. It reminds me that beauty and goodness really do still exist in the world. It makes me feel loved and cared for even though we’d only just met. There is a sense of family and acceptance and belonging. That, too, is humbling.

I never would have guessed that we’d stop serendipitously at a farmers market on a hot evening in Waleska, Georgia to idle away some time together and I’d end up finding a new friend and maybe not the cure for cancer, but at least a salve to continue healing my heart and a source. A source of hope for countless women as we link arms in solidarity to raise money to find a cure and fight it and win.

(Oh, by the way, I thought I’d include a link to Natalie’s website. If you’d like to help Natalie reach her goal and also contribute to the Komen Foundation as they continue funding to find a cure, click on the Komen 3-day Race box at the top of her page and it will link you to a secure page with the Komen Foundation. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!)  http://www.arrangedtoeat.com/

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14 Responses to “farmers market for a cure”

  1. Diane Monette Says:

    That was Beautiful and gave me tears. Thank you for sharing. It was great!!! I hope a lot of people help

  2. Jan Lane Says:

    This made me cry. I love to hear your heart as you so vulnerably share it:)

  3. Linda Says:

    Thank you and God Bless you Kris for sharing your heart and how Jesus is still working through you. It is very touching, I pray that you would feel the gentleness of the Holy Spirit as you work through this and that you would feel the sweet peace of our Lord Jesus as you find answers your soul desires. Blessings and Love, Linda

  4. Debbie Huetter Says:

    Kris, Thank you for your beautiful words that truly touched my heart. As I read them I was blinking away the tears so I could continue. Your explanation for your sudden tears and raw emotions is helping me to understand why I occasionally find myself dealing with the same thing. While not a cancer survivor, I do have my “box of memories-to-be-forgotten”. The suicide of my oldest son 25 years ago. Seeing you identify the gamut of feelings and naming them and explaining about the “lid” has been so encouraging for me. Thank you for being so real and sharing this bittersweet moment. I love your honesty and candor.
    May our LOrd continue to prfoundly and abundantly bless you and your family.
    Debbie

  5. Connie Says:

    Hey Kris. What a great way to stay connected with you as you two are away. A beautiful story that has rippling impact. WOW I was impacted as I was reading. Thanks. We miss you back here. Connie

  6. angie williams Says:

    I don’t even know how to respond to this. It is simply one of the most beautiful things you’ve written. And one of the most beautiful I have read.
    It may sound funny, but I can close my eyes, take a deep breath and actually smell this fragrance of Life.

    Thank you for sharing with us, Kris

    I love you, angie

  7. Stephanie McConachie Says:

    Tears….Our ways, circumstances…hearts are not hidden from the Lord! Thank you for putting her link on your page! I hope lots of people help!

  8. Valerie Says:

    I was scrolling down through your beautiful word picture of a day in your life. Part way through I thought, “I wish she had taken a picture.” Then my mouse moved to your very moving words and the photo of your divine appointment with Natalie on a hot Georgia day. Thank you!

    Thinking of you as you make new memories this summer, and sort through those that are boxed up.

    Stay Cool!

  9. Deanna Says:

    Kris,
    WOW!!! God Encounters!!! Natalie and you are so sweet in the picture! I love it!!!! What an incredible door that has been opened! Very life giving! That is just who you and Les are! It brought me to tears to read the story and the testimony of your life ….. we will never forget…for the Lord uses it all!!!!! Miss you tons! Excited to see you writing! Thank you for sharing your time with all of us! Love you …!!!

  10. Karen Says:

    Kris, what an amazing story. God is using you in mightly ways. We are not surpised that God is opening up doors, hearts, and minds so that you can share you testimony. We all need to hear this message, that
    even in our vacation time, God is opening up for our ministries. Be prepared Kris, there is another story just around the corner. God Bless
    we missed you lots, keep writting. We love hearing what God is dong.

  11. Jenny Black Says:

    Wow what an awesome blogg – I thoroughly enjoyed reading it this morning. Hope the rest of your sebatical is blessed and continues to b relaxing.

  12. Ren Says:

    I can’t think of the right words.. I’m touched, really.. Thanks for this post..

  13. Ellen Says:

    …and now I’m crying. And you’re right…it’s the passion and compassion and hope that “strangers” have for one another. To know that people really do still care about, not just themselves, but countless Moms, sisters, daughters, etc. that they will never meet…well that’s just something we need to see a lot more of these days! What a beautiful experience that was for all of you…because you know she will be telling her kids about you someday. Thanks for sharing!

    Ellen

  14. Tracy Says:

    Great post, Kris.

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