Almost exactly six years ago, I traveled to Pittsburgh to meet with two wonderful women, Cooper and Emily, who founded a website for which I was working. One of the other editors for the site was at the meeting as well, and like me, she received a bag of gifts upon her arrival--a nice surprise. There were lots of cool things, but I remember two in particular.
One was a pair of silver ballet slippers, custom decorated with handwritten words about me, so that every time I looked down at my feet, I would be reminded that I was funny and creative and brilliant. Despite the fact that I have a hard time picking out shoes for myself, these shoes that were surreptitiously bought and created for me fit perfectly. I called them my princess shoes and wore them constantly until they started to show signs of wear. I now reserve them for state occasions, royal weddings, that sort of thing.
The second thing I remember was a book co-written by Emily and two friends of hers, called "Living with the End in Mind." Even though I realized that the book was a labor of love for Emily (one of her co-authors was a beloved friend who died of breast cancer), I have to admit it felt a little weird to receive it. I felt like Pollyanna, who was hoping to receive a doll for Christmas, only to get a pair of crutches instead. As Pollyanna did with her crutches, I tucked my book away in case it should be needed. Unlike Pollyanna, I was not as cheerful when I discovered it was.
However, it's a great book. At least I think so, because I can only bear to read it for about twelve seconds at a time. But every time I pick it up, I randomly flip it open to a page that is helpful right at that very minute. And now I wish I had read it earlier when it didn't seem so fraught. But no matter. It is a good book, it reminds me of the person who gave it to me, and it is giving me what I need as I need it.
In a somewhat bizarre twist, both I and the other friend who were given the book were diagnosed with cancer within a few years of receiving it. So I would like to propose that Emily's next book be titled, "How to Manage Your Lottery Winnings and Still Have Time for a Daily Massage." I promise, I'll be first in line at the book signing.