More Cranes

Cranes keep arriving. Now some have messages about how they might help her fly away… (one with her name on it was recently tucked into the Western Wall: maybe a direct line…)

The images of her in flight are so much better than any others associated with this current phase. Wings to fly with.

Cousin C included inscriptions on the wings “Shalom” and Psalm 91:4 “He will shelter you with his wings.”

This is additional to other notes on cranes:
“This is my first one.”
And MANY wishes for getting well.
Some signatures.
“Kirby rules, Love C—“
Lots of love on and in the cranes.

Cousin C’s shipment included a photo of 25 sand cranes in flight.

And the decorated cranes come: hand-drawn patterns on the paper, hearts, stars, abstract designs drawn on the cranes after folding.

The oldest crane arrived: made of salvaged granite (a very old stone) from the Community Forklift.

Yesterday, during Shabbat and with the house filled with her peer group of 20-somethings more cranes were folded and strung.

People who have struggled to master crane-folding have succeeded and are sending cranes along.

Sometimes cranes arrive strung (and no apologies are needed EVER for either cranes or stringing); sometimes they arrive as singletons with a card; and they’ve arrived by the boxful.

People ask how many there are:
We have counted the cranes several times, make a note of totals, lose the note…

I found one bag with this count on it:
19 oct
Kit 850
Front 1150
Entry vest 100
+ 50
(For a total of 2150 in October if my arithmetic serves)

The count as of yesterday, 22 January, Saturday:

Kit w/K 1900
Vestibule 100
Curtain 1700
Upstairs 1058
June 1000

totaling 5758 not counting unstrung cranes and not counting cranes given away: four strings so far to people at the chiropractor, two strings to Ro’s ailing granny, regular singletons to Z—-, a Nats crane to Rabbi D—even though he’s a Sox fan, strings and singletons to nurses and caregivers (a pink string to the nurses of the cancer floor at WHC in October, Breast Cancer Awareness month…) I don’t think the gifts of cranes diminishes their power on the magical thinking front, but probably enhances.

The birds began as magical thinking based on a children’s book and a Japanese tradition and have, I think, evolved into a form of therapy and a way to channel worry and hope for so very many people.

Where there’s life there’s hope. (And this in spite of the “no platitudes” rule around this house: we really need truth from this particular platitude.)

Maybe since we’ve gone so far beyond the requisite 1000 we have enough credit for the miracle. We’ll hope. This morning (Monday) Robert was musing about the next wish. What should it be?

Speedy recovery? (I thought I could deal with just “recovery” even if it wasn’t speedy.)
Able to walk again?
Cured; 100% cancer-free? (he thought that might be pushing the power of the wishes, asking for too much.)
Back to work? (In spite of the Calvinist work ethic that drives us in this house I thought work could be further down the list, below alive.)

We don’t have to wish for vomit-free: she’s now been SIX days without vomiting…

Anyway, I think we’ll work on the next wish.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Judy Hadley
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 17:04:30

    A note to Judith-
    I am so appreciative of your writing. I feel like I receive a gift from you when I read your posts. I know this is not the point of them- you are keeping us informed, but where would we (friends) be without them? in the dark. Thank you.


  2. Ann
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 17:20:14


    I echo Judy Hadley’s sentiments. Thank you so for sharing your and Kirby’s ongoing journey. Though words can’t express how difficult this must be for all of your, Kirby especially, we thank you for keeping us all so aware of what you are going through. Please know our thoughts and prayer are with you constantly.

    with love,

    Ann S.


  3. Nancy and Ken
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 17:54:38

    You are right about the cranes. They are a gift to friends and family from Kirby as much as the other way around. For those of us who feel so helpless, the cranes are a way to turn our hopes and prayers into some kind of concrete action. As our extended family sat around a table in Austin trying to learn how to fold colorful pieces of left-over holiday paper into acceptable cranes, we felt we were “doing something.” There is comfort in that, as we hope all the cranes bring comfort to you, and Robert and Judith and Owen–and to everyone who walks into your magically transformed house. Thank you, Kirby, for the gift of cranes.



  4. Cara Levy
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 20:39:54

    I love this inspiring post, and I would just like to say on behalf of myself and all of Kirby’s friends I have spoken to, we really appreciate your hospitality over the weekend. Spending time with Kirby means so much to all of us.


  5. Betsy Broder
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 20:46:56

    You writing lifts us all up, yet that seems so backwards. It is we who should be lifting your family up. Your entries are life affirming, and reflect the power of love, friendship, and connections. You all are in my thougths. Betsy B


  6. colleenteresa
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:10:40

    Dear Kirby, Judith, Robert & Owen,
    This crazy old Catholic lady (me) has been praying like mad and enlisting three–count ’em three–saints the RC hasn’t recognized yet, Archbishop Romero (martyred while saying Mass -1980), Mother Teresa and Kateri Tekakwitha, Iroquois 17th C. They’re doing their bit as well up there with You-know-Who. And flat out: I praying for the big one: cancer totally gone. In our tradition we have nine days of prayer, a novena, but mine isn’t stopping for any arbitrary cut off. Hope is a great grace.


  7. deborah dorazi
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:32:56

    Possibly a “next” wish could be for Kirby to have her next birthday….a lovely, blessed thought, wish.
    Love and hope,
    Aunt Deborah


  8. Ruth Capen Batten
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 21:36:51

    this message of all the Hope just gives me smiles. I like that feeling…cousin R


  9. Susan Stanger
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 22:01:35

    Judith and Robert,
    I am Susan, mom of Kirby’s friend Abby Berns (from Smith). I have been praying on my own for all of you for many weeks now. But on Saturday I gathered with a group of powerful women of many faiths…Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Episcopal and Gurdjieff… we gathered together as we have done for 10 years, now, but on this day we prayed for Kirby. We held her and you in our hearts and prayed our hearts out.


  10. Erin
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 23:18:50


    I love you sooooooooo much. I miss you already- that always happens, whether a just a weekend or two weeks in Italy, I always miss you after we part. I have some cranes that will be flying your way very soon.

    XOXOX to All…


  11. Abby B
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 00:13:09

    I like imagining the cranes flying in from all over the world, flapping their wings and showering the 4 of you with all of our love. Thank you for the updates, it means so much to us all. May G-d shelter you in G-d’s sukkat shalom.


  12. Yael
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 04:48:56

    Just wanted to echo what others wrote: Thank you so much for everything you have done to share this journey with us, and especially for sharing Kirby and your home with us this weekend.

    I too am voting for wish number 3 and made some more cranes on the today to try to help get to that 6000 mark.

    So much love to the four of you . . .


  13. Vini Schoene
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 16:22:37


    Thank you so much for finding the strength to let us all know how you are doing. I think we all would like to be with you in person. Of course that would be impossibly burdensome….but we’re all there with you in spirit. Thanks for letting us be so.

    Love from


  14. Katie Sheffield
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 17:45:37

    I just want you to know that I am thinking about you almost every second of every day. You are always there in the background (often the foreground) of all my thoughts, and I am praying for you every day. I also asked my dad to have his prayer group at church to pray for you. We are praying for a total cure, for you to be healthy, comfortable, and happy.
    I am also making lots of cranes for you with haikus on them. Whenever I think of haikus I think of you. They are mostly inspired by our time in Scotland. They will (literally) fly with me from Colorado on Friday when I come to visit you. I can’t wait to see you.


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