CHAPSTICK

by Justine Greene


We sat on the couch so close that I felt almost in my mother’s lap. She told me the story of what was to come: the statistics, the outcomes, the likely future. A desperate sadness wrapped itself around us that afternoon on that couch, around our cooling untouched teas. 

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In that moment, I learned that when we care for a loved one, we often search for the one thing that would make everything better—make the pain go away, make the wounds heal, maybe even make cancer vanish, the impossible search. When we sat on the couch that day, Mom told me the story of how at twenty-one she wasn’t able to find the perfect thing to help her own dear mother in her last weeks of life. “All I need is chapstick,” my grandmother had said. As Mom told the story, I watched tears flow down her beautiful, soft cheeks. “And I didn’t help her in that littlest of ways,” she said.

And so, on that day, the torch was passed. For me, for Mom, it was the simplicity of a perfectly-scented bubble bath. “Like the warm Caribbean sea. That will help,” she said. When errands were needed, I’d squeeze in an extra stop to find the scent.

Hundreds of dollars later, searching every drug store and high-end department store, I was still perusing every brand name and non-brand name in search of the perfect scent. Each time I presented her with one, proud of my discovery, I got a little closer, but it was never exactly right. Back out I would go, to keep trying. Now, six years later, I’m sure the perfect scent didn’t actually exist, but it was the scavenger hunt, the process, the love and care that went into the assignment that mattered the most to her, or so she said.

 

Justine Greene is our Wizard of Operations. Bringing her clarity of mind and warm heart to each day, Justine ensures flow in the day-to-day running of the organization, while infusing the vision with her extensive background in nonprofit leadership.