A group of ladies I now call friends decided to get together to play “ladies” poker once a month. Ladies poker involved gifts, not money, and each month we would bring a gift that cost between $15 and $20 to poker night. Each month had a different theme. We had our first game and some of us were new to each other but we all became friends pretty quickly. Although it was competitive – you know how women get over bargain gifts – we hugged and shared stories about our lives as we played. Some of us had happy stories, some had sad stories, some had funny stories, and some asked for prayers for a loved one. We had become comrades. One particular month was a wild animal theme. I won the little glass elephant that came with incense. Cute little elephant, where did it come from, who brought it? Danyella confessed she had brought the little glass elephant and incense. Time went by and the little glass elephant went with me when I made two big moves in my life. I decided the little glass elephant was a dust collector so it went into the infamous “garage sale” box, but the garage sale never happened. I was unable to join the group for monthly poker when I moved out of town, but last night the group needed someone to fill in so, with a little hesitation, I said I’d come and just make the drive home when we finished playing. It was the first time I saw Danyella in a long time. Her hair had fallen out because of the chemo and she’d lost weight but she was alive. Danyella and I talked more than we paid attention to our cards—winning a $15 or $20 prize didn’t matter at this point. Danyella told me about her journey that began in August when, on a routine doctor visit, she was sent to M.D. Anderson to fight for her life. I had a great visit filled with laughter and tears. I didn’t win one of the $15 prizes last night, but as I drove home, I reflected and I knew I’d won the prize of a great friendship with an amazing woman. I said prayers that Danyella would get some more time; time to see her new grandbaby grow into a young lady; time to see her son graduate; time to play at least one more game of ladies poker
At this point, I hadn’t given the little glass elephant much thought, but suddenly I remembered buried somewhere in the “garage sale” box was the little glass elephant. I found it and it is now the elephant in the room that will always remind me of Danyella, no matter where this journey takes her.
Danyella made her journey to heaven about a year after I wrote this piece.