52: Baskets Full of Hope

52: Baskets Full of Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Baskets Full of Hope

Angels deliver Fate to our doorstep — and anywhere else it is needed.

~Jessi Lane Adams

A never-ending stream of flowers arrived for weeks after my cancer diagnosis — like ants to a picnic! There were pink roses, red geraniums, purple chrysanthemums, and my “favorite” — a white wicker basket of daisies with a “Get Well” sticker pasted on the front of the cellophane wrap. It must have been the special of the month because I received three identical baskets in the same week. Our house looked like a funeral home.

My wound was deep — not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. I did all the right things: I didn’t drink alcohol, didn’t smoke, exercised every day, and ate tofu when no one else knew what it was, and still — at the age of forty — I heard the words no woman wants to hear “You have breast cancer.”

Plain and simple: I was angry at God!

How was I supposed to work a full-time job, go through radiation treatments on my lunch break, and take care of our two boys — ages nine and fourteen — with all their afterschool activities and weekend sports?

As I swept the floor and picked up the rest of the dried rose petals, I burst into tears. Didn’t anyone understand how I felt? Everyone’s life went back to normal, but I was stuck in a room full of dead daisies and only half a breast.

The next day — my first week back at work — there was a “Welcome Back” sign posted on the lunchroom door and sitting on my desk was another bouquet of daisies in a white wicker basket with a smiley-face sticker that said: “Feel Better Soon!”

I forced a “thank you” and then politely excused myself — heading for the emergency exit for a much-needed coffee break.

Tears streaked down my cheeks as I made my way into the parking lot — letting the spring breeze cool my blotchy face. The April rain left a familiar earthy smell and the evergreen trees — lining the parking lot — swayed back and forth as if waving “goodbye.” I took a deep cleansing breath and whispered, “God, please help me!”

When I returned to my desk, the office supervisor observed my mottled face and suggested, “Why don’t you take the rest of the day off, Connie?”

I couldn’t speak past the lump in my throat and simply nodded in agreement.

On the drive home, I cried — no — sobbed for twenty minutes until I reached the driveway to our house. Wiping away the tears with my shirtsleeve, I noticed Mark was standing in the doorway holding a basket.

“Oh, please, no more flowers,” I murmured.

“No, honey,” Mark blurted out, “I think you’re going to like this!”

Through the cellophane wrap I saw a basket filled with delightful gifts: a pink-ribbon mug, herbal teas, fluffy pink socks, a lavender-scented candle, shower gel, bath crystals, and nestled at the bottom, a bathtub pillow and an inspirational, spiritual book.

“Who sent this?” I asked.

“It was on the back doorstep when I got home!” Mark replied.

I rummaged through the cellophane shreds hoping to find a clue, but there was none.

“Why don’t you take a nice hot bath, while I fix supper for the boys,” Mark suggested.

I made my way upstairs — swinging the basket in my hand — and plopped it down on the bathroom floor while I poured the salt crystals into the warm water, lit the lavender candle and blew up my bath pillow. The scent of lavender filled our tiny bathroom and I relished the luxury of the moment. While I lay there, I picked up the tiny book, opened it to the first page, and read the words, “I will never leave you or forsake you!” Tears trickled down my face while I let the soothing waters wash over me.

The very next day I called my friend, Sue. I had to know who sent the basket.

“Hi, Sue! Do you know anything about a basket that was sent to my house?” I asked. Sue knew everything about everyone — not in a busybody type of way — but she kept tabs on the neighborhood.

“Nope, haven’t heard a thing about any basket,” she said, gracefully. “How thoughtful though . . . I mean . . . anything is better than flowers — right?”

I called several friends and even queried a few local florists in the area, but no one knew anything about a “breast cancer” gift basket. It was as if it dropped right out of the sky!

For weeks I enjoyed its contents: sipping vanilla chamomile tea in my pink-ribbon mug, savoring the chocolate mint truffles that were hidden at the bottom of the basket, and slipping into a warm bath each night to the scent of a lavender candle. For a few brief moments each evening, I almost forgot that I had breast cancer. Long after the contents were gone, I had a mug, a beautiful wicker basket and a book of “God’s Promises” which I read each day. I even started attending church services again!

Almost a year to the day that I received my cancer diagnosis, another basket was delivered to our home. There was message — printed on the front — that read: “Survivor Basket!”

Again, I called my friend, Sue. “Hey Sue, do you know anything about a basket that was delivered to my house?” I could hear her chuckle in the background.

“Why don’t you just send them my way next time,” she prompted. “I really think God’s trying to tell you something. Maybe you should start your own gift basket company!”

“You know what, Sue?” I said. “I just might do that!”

It didn’t happen overnight; in fact, it’s been a little over seven years since I quit my day job and started Baskets Full of Hope for cancer survivors and their families. Hundreds of baskets have gone out to all parts of the country and each one with a special handwritten message . . . . “May this basket start you on a journey of faith, hope and healing!”

~Connie K. Pombo

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