By Liz Geller, LPC-MHSP
While it can be helpful in difficult situations to try to find the positive – to “look on the bright side” and “find the silver lining” – life during a global pandemic has made such efforts of optimism feel cliché, challenging, and – on some days – downright impossible. It’s been – and continues to be – such a difficult time in many ways, and yet here I sit reflecting on a recent Gilda’s Club event that felt exceptionally meaningful and hopeful (dare I say “bright”?), because of the pandemic. This last year has engendered a deepened sense of gratitude for the simple things I used to take for granted, like being able to be together.
In June, we hosted our first in-person program in over 15 months: a Family Fun Gathering at Shelby Bottoms Park. At the outdoor event, we had the opportunity to connect with a number of our Gilda’s Club families for a day of conversation and play. Kids and teens enjoyed lawn games and kept each other cool with water toys while the adults mingled; in these moments, things felt almost “normal” in the sense that we enjoyed each other’s company in “real life,” rather than through our computer screens. We were able to reconnect with long-time members, as well as meet new members who we’d previously only known as faces in a Zoom square. There were lots of big smiles as we celebrated good medical news and life updates. We were able to share some long overdue hugs with our families who have recently lost loved ones. It felt like a family reunion – the kind that fills your soul with a sense of comfort and warmth knowing you’re surrounded by people who understand and support you unconditionally. It felt like a lifetime had passed since we last saw one another in-person, and yet, simultaneously, like no time had passed at all. It’s these kinds of relationships – effortless because they are founded on genuine understanding – that make the Gilda’s Club community the special one it is. What a gift to witness connections forming and growing in-person again!
We are so thankful we have been able to stay connected via technology over the last 15+ months, so that no adult, teen, or child in Middle Tennessee has to face cancer alone. We are also grateful we can now start to find ways to gather in-person safely – and plan more of these sweet reunions with and for our Gilda’s Club members. After such a difficult year, being able to reconnect and experience an even deeper appreciation for our cancer support community truly is a silver lining.