The Best Idea for the Worst Times

I love Emily McDowell’s greeting cards. Snarky, realistic, cheesy, and off the wall without being the office lady who wears all purple and warns the new hires, “You’ll have to watch out for me, I’m a little CRAAAZY!” A birthday card that says “Time to put out this tiny fire while you sing a song!” gets points with me. And a very succinct “Aaaaaahhh! You’re Getting Married!” card. It’s like she’s in my brain creating the cards I would make. I’ve loved them since they came to my attention a year or so back.

They’ve launched a new line of empathy cards. They’re amazing.

Most of them are geared towards cancer, but there are a few that would be just fine for the person in your life with ALS. Put lots of money inside.

I just wanted to point out that these exist, and they make me happy, and that I am so glad to see that there are people out there who get it, making products for those who maybe don’t. Including the simple, “There is no good card for this. I’m so sorry.” It rocks that people in outer circles have options to say when they have no words.

Simple Gestures

Very little makes me quite as happy as random happy surprises in the mail. For this reason, I was an avid participant at , where you sign up to send a random stranger a gift, and another random stranger sends YOU something. I got burned a couple of times, but overall, it was a lovely experience. I’m actually waiting on my Arbitrary Day exchange now! I was matched with someone in the Netherlands, I hope she likes what I gave her.

Awhile back, I set something up with my friends called Happy Boxes. The idea was similar, only you knew who your match was: me. I sent anyone who asked a box full of things that made me happy – things like cake sprinkles, finger puppets made into fridge magnets, candy, stickers, scented candles. In return, they’d send me something. I sent out ten boxes, and I think I got four back? But the ones I got back were awesome. My dear friend Marina went COMPLETELY overboard and sent me a huge box of baking supplies from King Arthur Flour. Another friend sent me a box chock full of awesome things she’d been collecting for me for some time.

It is a guarantee of happy. A complete cure for a wretched day.

I sent a message to my friends on facebook awhile ago, offering to do this again. I had some people tell me they were interested. But thennnnnnnn I bought the house, and then this whole Godzilla Disorder thing happened. So I lost track of the Happy Boxes, and they were relegated to the back burner. Maybe forever.

One of my friends, though, didn’t forget, and a three weeks ago, he sent me a message:

Hey Vash, check this out and gimme a yea or nay:

I thought he was asking for opinions before he got himself a subscription, so I told him I knew a couple of people who subscribed, and I’d heard that they were awesome!

And he told me he “would be honored to buy me a sub”.

And I blinked a few times. And had the most intense mental battle with myself. Because I have a really hard time accepting acts of kindness, as I’ve said before, but I’m ALSO trying to be more gracious about it when people offer to do awesome things for me. So I said okay.

It arrived yesterday, and it was FULL OF AMAZING THINGS including one of the best teeshirts ever. I raved about it to my facebook friends, and posted lots of pictures, and thanked him a lot. Because it was an incredibly sweet thing he did, and the timing was perfect as I’d had a REALLY rough week at work. And among the comments on my pictures, he posted this:

“I want to take a moment and explain my motivation, since this post may reach eyes that don’t know the whole story. For the record, I got permission from my wife before I offered to set this up. 

I met Vashti Ross about 12 years ago. We worked together at Stream in a call center, and became friends (as much as two co-workers can become friends, anyway). Years later, we reconnected over Facebook, and I’ve watched the story of the ALS diagnosis.

When the ALS was confirmed, it broke my heart and I wanted to do something to help, but being a work buddy is pretty low on the relationship priority chain. Then, last month another friend Cameron at my current job posted about LootCrate, and I basically had a big House-style epiphany.

“kindness in.” There’s nothing I can do about the disease, and there’s probably a few dozen closer friends/relatives that can help with daily needs, but I sure as hell can add to the “happy moment” pile.

To quote The Doctor: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and… bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.”

Vashti, I am thrilled that I’ve added to your pile of good things.”

Nathan is an amazingly sweet person. I also adore that he quoted the Silk Circle *AND* Doctor Who.

That whole “I don’t deserve this” definitely kicked in. MORE so, when he posted a referral link to that site, where every five people who subscribe through it gets me another month, and then my dearest friend Megan posted that link to her wall: “One of my dearest friends, Vashti, was recently diagnosed with ALS (, and though there is nothing we can do about the stupid disease, there is plenty we can do to shower her with love while we can.”

Annnnnd my heart burst out of my chest and I felt so. Amazingly. Loved. And then another friend shared that link. And then another. I am completely overwhelmed by love. THERE IS GOOD IN THE WORLD AND I AM ITS UNWORTHY RECIPIENT. And while it’s LOVELY to get a box of awesome little nerdy geeky fun things, it’s the fact that someone out there, that I’ve not even SEEN for ten years, cared enough about me and wanted to lighten my load just a little bit….that..I’m not gonna lie, I totally teared up. Am doing so.

I am so so so grateful for the people in my life. In a comment thread on one of those posts, I told a friend-of-a-friend that I was lucky to have such an amazing support network. I didn’t have to ask for anything. When I looked up, everyone had their bags packed for this journey and were coming with me, whether I asked them to or not. “You ARE going to get over yourself and ask for help, and we WILL provide it. Now. What can we do for now?” I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them all. You all. Every planet in my orbit.

It’s what will make the difference between simply surviving with this disease or living with it.