For my 52nd birthday, I have officially received what has to be the most collaborative, creative and heartwarming gift I’ve ever received.
My sister thought of the gift after reading my blog post, "Playing the Hand I’m Dealt."
With two jokers and a couple extra cards expressing
my appreciation, there are 56 cards total.
One-quarter of my life lived is post MS diagnosis, and I’ve likely been living more than half of my life with MS. I will turn 52 this year, and it tickles me to compare my age to matching the number of cards in a full deck. I’ll consider myself as playing with a full deck and working on adding another deck. I’m wary of the wild cards, but I will play what I’m dealt.
She started the project two months before my birthday by contacting my friends and family to invite participation. She coordinated sending them individual playing cards from a single deck of cards to sign and return. Some cards traveled across town, and others flew thousands of miles to arrive where they originally departed. Each card physically started their journey as common cards; exact copies existed in every other mass-produced deck of cards packaged and sold. Each card returned with unique messages and travels. She gathered them together, returned the full deck of cards to their original packaging as if they hadn’t been disturbed, gift-wrapped the package, and sent them 1,400 miles to my doorstep.
The gift I opened appeared innocuous. I chuckled and expressed appreciation for the 52 reference, yet I only opened the packaging when prompted. As I emptied the box and studied individual cards, I slowly digested what the gift was and what it took to create. To have so many people from each life chapter of my 52 years share their love and wish me well was overwhelming. Each was a personal message in their handwriting. There were memories of times shared, happy birthday messages, compliments, inspirational quotes, wordplay and artwork incorporating the card number and the number 52. I share so much with each of the people who helped create this gift, yet we experience this world uniquely. The similarity between these altered cards and people is fitting. Separately each person holds unique identities and value; together we embody a collective fabric of kinship and entwined existence.
We converge and emerge from each interaction altered. We meet as the person we’ve become, influence each other, create new memories, and continually evolve. This gift symbolizes and commemorates an abundance of relationships, moments and lasting impressions. A combination of giddiness and brimming tears sits with me days after receiving this gift, and I anticipate I’ll treasure this gift and the emotions it stirs the rest of my days.