With every sunrise, she's one day closer to preparing herself for goodbyes and I Love You's for those she will leave behind. And yet, Jeanie Winchester is focusing on the positive. She's looking forward to what may be her last Valentine's Day on this earth and what may arrive in the mail from the strangers she is hoping will reach out, share love, and give her another reason to smile.
I found Jeanie on Facebook while searching for places and people in the area I was getting ready to move to while still living in the desert. If tress must be heard while falling in the woods for them to be recognized as having fallen, then in my world, the very definition of Existance is defined by being able to find it on the internet. It wasn't until I got here that I realized why Jeanie's name was really the only one to show up, and that's because people don't do social media here. They arrive on your doorstep with freshly baked cookies to welcome you to the neighborhood and offer to jump your car in the middle of a blizzard when the battery dies in the grocery store parking lot. And they wave and make eye contact.
The Husband actually warned me to not punch the gas station attendant when I went to fill up the first time because random men walking up to a woman's driver's side window used to be on the list for tomorrow's headlines. Now it just means the poor guy is freezing his ass off waiting for me to find my credit card and let him know if I want regular or unleaded. Welcome to northern Maine. It's colder than hell up here but I'll take it, considering I am allergic to everything south of New Mexico and I also happen to be allergic to allergy medication. Doesn't make having to use a land line to make a call while in my house because cellphone reception sucks unless I am standing on the porch less of a pain in the ass, though.
Jeanie accepted my random friend request. And then I watched her updates fly by, not really paying attention because who does when there are 500 people talking at the same time?
It was her Facebook update on New Year's Day that sparked our initial conversation. She simply said that she wanted to know what her resolution should be because everyone expects her to have one.
Everyone expects everyone to have at least one of those, I think. I stopped making them a long time ago because I got tired of reminding myself that I always feel like I need to be more than I am (while reporting a steady weight loss, of course) in my status updates because that's what we all try to do.
Normally I ignore resolution conversations just because its easier than explaining my penchant for breaking promises to myself so it's just better not to make them. But Jeanie ended her update with a simple reminder to her friends that she has about a year left.
"They didn't look for a cause to the lymphoma. I found out about 9 months ago," Jeanie told me during one of our late night Facebook conversations. "That was when I decided that I was going to make the trek back home to Maine from Florida. I had already fought and am currently still in remission to lung and brain cancer. I made the decision then not to fight this."
I have yet to meet Jeanie in person and yet she amazes me every day with the simple act of waking up to live it.
A few days ago, she asked for Valentine's Day cards.
This may be my last Valentines on earth so, I want to exchange Valentines with EVERYONE. I don't care if you live down the road, send me a Valentine and you will get one in return. I don't care if it's just a scribbled ripped piece of paper that says Happy Valentines Day, just send anything at all! For every Valentine I get I will send one back will a special surprise inside! :-)
Dear Internet, please grant me your leftover Hallmark cards, the extras from your child's school stash for passing out, and glitter glue covered construction paper. Find a stamp. Get yourself to the post office. Jeanie's waiting.
I will personally deliver your Valentine's Day cards to Jeanie. Just use this address on the envelope and I'll do the rest:
Girl Body Pride Pauline Campos
(In Care of Jeanie Winchester) P.O. Box 941 39 Court Street Ste 9998 Houlton, Maine 04730-9998
And thank you.