Birthday Blessings: Fancy Mail

This week is my birthday. I have taken 37 turns around the sun. Instead of asking for a pony…like I do every year, and ending up disappointed. Again. I’ve decided to spend the week highlighting things in my life I am grateful for and a non-profit that helps make that possible for other people. If you are so moved by the spirit of #KJCbday, then please make a contribution or donation to one of these groups or volunteer your time with them. Each of them are doing some pretty amazing things.

My freshman year of college I lived in Gibson Hall at the University of Arkansas. A group of the girls on the second floor became my family. Three I knew from high school. The others were strangers to me in August, but not for long. We were the Gibson Girls. There were ten of us who were tight on the floor, plus one honorary Gibson Girl from another dorm because hers was wretched. Despite having saved shoe boxes full of photos, I cannot find a single photo of all eleven of us.

I think we were re-enacting the Brady Bunch theme song. Or not.

I don’t know why she was holding me. I’m sure it seemed perfectly rational at the time. (Please notice the blue valance on our window. My roommate and I *decorated* that room, y’all. I think there even throw pillows that spent most of their lives on the floor.)

I have no idea what I’m looking at. Maybe her chest. Maybe mine. Maybe the floor. Why? These things are hard to know almost two decades later.

They had just put up this sign. We thought we were so cool standing on it.

A couple of weeks ago, we found out a Gibson Girl is sick. I don’t pretend that this is happening to my body. But it’s happening to a Gibson Girl. These are the girls who watched me clean like a mad woman during finals week to avoid studying. The watched me come undone and pull myself together over and over. They shared community bathrooms with me. We all pretended not to see visitors in the hallways when they weren’t supposed to be there. They wished me well when I eloped and left school. I went to their weddings. They got on planes and in cars to show up for party when Jackson arrived.

Faced with insecurity, uncomfortable feelings and no actionable items, I’m doing what I do best: plan things. We’ve put together a care calendar for happy mail once surgery and treatments begin. With our group spread across the country, casseroles aren’t really an option. As soon as a surgery date is set, the plan goes into action.

I’ve been thinking a lot about these women who show up, no questions asked, in whatever form they can, every single time I’ve asked them. They don’t judge. Well, except about that really bad outfit, but you should have known better. Why should the only time they get mail from me be Christmas cards or when something bad happens? So I made boxes of happiness for them.

Boxes of happiness that went in the mail. All I’m saying is they included glitter, some bunting and there were rumors of unicorns, but they were unconfirmed.

This is the tough stuff that friends are designed for. I know lots of people have great dorm friends from college. For some reason, mine stuck around way past those years. Not everyone has that luxury.

For those who don’t have friends sending lotions and happiness in the mail, or for friends who have no idea what might be useful, an amazing new non-profit has begun work in Little Rock, Fighting Fancy. It was begun by Heather Owens, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28.

Fighting Fancy is a non-profit organization providing chemo bags to young women 15-39 with breast cancer. Bags include the heart tank and necklace I wear each chemo, beauty, dental and hair products I found helpful during my treatment. All things to keep us women feeling strong and Fighting Fancy!

You can be a Gibson Girl to women who will never know your name, but will feel your love, all the same. If you can donate product or money to Fighting Fancy, contact Heather and her team.

In the meantime, don’t wait until you’re scared to send mail to the people you love. Your Gibson Girls deserve smiles for no reason at all.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Birthday Blessings: Fancy Mail

  1. Kellee

    Kerri- This is all YOU! You are the awesome one that has organized this. YOU are the one that brought everyone together and gave us unicorns (and they were sparkly and downright fantastic (no kidding, my day totally improved when I opened that, I was so HAPPY! And my kids wanted to see “my box” and I told them it was mommy’s special unicorn.) How you do it, i don’t know. But know i love you, I think of you. Every Gibson girl also holds my heart.

  2. Wow. You are a truly great friend. Going to sit down this weekend and write all those letters I’ve been meaning to for weeks. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

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