Before I started my first round of treatments in August a family friend dropped a gift at our front door. I had just come home from a long day at the hospital with appointments and was excited to see a surprise at the door. I opened the bag to reveal an orange purse filled with notebooks, pens, and other desk supplies. Orange is my favorite color and it’s rare to find a purse that color. I immediately picked up the phone and called to thank her for the gifts. In talking with her she asked about an owl she saw at the house while she was dropping off the gift. The owl was near our front door on the light on our walkway. She told me that while she was dropping off the gift the owl watched her the whole time. I told her that we had never seen an owl at our house or at our front door. I immediately knew it was her son watching over my family and hers.
The second time an owl appeared during my treatments was when I was making blankets for my chemo nurses. Whenever I went into the hospital for my four-day inpatient chemo treatments I always took my fleece knot blanket. My sister had made it for me. One side was a solid orange and the other had a horse pattern. Anytime one of my nurses would walk in the room they would always admire my blanket and comment on how soft it was. I knew at the end of my treatments I wanted to give all the nurses a gift and we thought a knot blanket would be the perfect idea. We ordered the fleece fabric online and chose a bright pattern with owls for one side and various solid colors for the other side. After ordering the fabric we counted all the nurses, aides, and anyone else who I had encountered on the chemo floor. When the number went above thirty-five I thought, “oh shit what did I get myself into.”
Since I wasn’t allowed to leave my house, because I had no immune system, I spent my days making the knot blankets. When I felt good I sat at our dining room table tying each knot for each blanket. My mom was nice enough to cut the fabric, lay it out, and cut the various ties for me to knot. Some days I would make one and other days I would make three. We had a system and it definitely help pass the time. There was only so much television I could watch. I usually listened to music, as I would knot each side while rolling around the table in my desk chair. There were several times that I almost got into an accident sliding all over our dining room. It wasn’t until we were tying the last blanket that we realized we picked an owl pattern. I originally liked it because of the bright colors. This was another time owls appeared in my life. We decided that my mom and sister would hand them out while I was in surgery.
While I was in my surgery having the tumor removed from behind my knee my mom and sister delivered the blankets to the chemo floor. What else were they going to do since they had five hours to kill. While I was in a drug-induced sleep they somehow got a family friend, who is a doctor in Danville, to help them. Apparently they were concerned about how to get all the bags of blankets to the floor. Our car was on the complete opposite side of the hospital of the chemo floor. Somehow our doctor friend stole a linen cart and they used it to deliver over thirty-five bags filled with the blankets to the nurses on BP8. I can only imagine the looks on people faces as they saw the trio pushing the cart down the long hallway at the hospital. My chemo nurses loved the blankets and still talk about them whenever I go and visit.
The third time owls appeared was when I decided to give all my radiation techs and radiation nurses owl socks on my last day of radiation. Every day I went for radiation I made sure to wear crazy socks. Since my knee was being radiated I had to wear shorts. The only problem was it was through January and part of February and it was freezing outside. Don’t worry I made the executive decision to wear pants over my shorts. I knew that my feet would be exposed and there was no way I was walking on hospital floors in bare feet. I went for thirty-three days and tried to wear a different pair each day. It was very hard to remember which ones I had already worn but I did my best. Between our hot dog and food discussions, everyone always commented on my socks. On the last day we brought everyone a thank you gift. Inside the bag was a pair of owl socks and cookies my mom made for them. Everyone in radiation was obsessed with these oatmeal white chocolate craisin cookies my mom makes. We also included a note about the reason behind the owls. I recently went to visit everyone and one of ladies in the front check in area made me cupcakes that looked like owl and they were delicious.
Owls have been a symbol of hope and inspiration for me throughout this past year. They always seemed to appear when I least would expect it. Sometimes they were in the form of a pattern or a picture on the wall. One day when I was getting my blood drawn and was really anxious, I can remember looking up at the calendar and seeing a picture of an owl. It immediately calmed me down. I didn’t pick owls because I am obsessed with a certain book where a wizard has a pet owl. I never was a fan of those books. The owl was a symbol that helped guide me through my treatments and allowed me to see through the darkness of my illness. Whenever I see an owl I know that someone is watching over me and guiding me through the unknown.