Ray of Sunshine

at 10:43 PM

It was only 7:30 am but already I was in a foul mood.

I was running late for work. My coffee maker was doing that thing again. I'd changed my outfit three times and still didn't like what I was wearing. And it was raining, hard. My shoes were soaked from my five-block walk to the carpool pick-up spot.

I was drenched from the knees down by the time I climbed into the front seat of a mini-van. The driver -- a kind-faced, 50-something year old woman -- was dressed all in shades of vibrant blue, from her earrings down to her tennis shoes. She was like a Caribbean sea in human form. But instead of warming from her glow, I recoiled further under my dark cloud.

As we inched through the traffic on 580, the driver hummed along to a song on the radio. Something light and poppy, inane. I thought, "How can she be so damn cheerful?"

And then I noticed the directions mapped out on her phone, and realized that she was on her way to the Breast Health Center.

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Since childhood, breast cancer has been firmly lodged into the back of my mind. My mother had -- and thankfully beat -- it when she was two years younger than I am now. I've been checking the box for "immediate family history of cancer" at the doctor's office for years.

There is nothing cheerful about breast cancer.

The woman in the mini-van wasn't dressed for a job interview, and I reasoned that she wouldn't need directions if she already worked there. I could only conclude that either she or someone she cared for was visiting the center for the reason we hope we never need to.

We continued to inch across the bridge -- the driver still humming to the radio -- and again I wondered, "How can she be so damn cheerful?" but this time it was with awe, not irritation.

At last we made it downtown, and as I exited the mini-van, the woman called out, "Hope you have a great day!"

I looked back at her in her blue glow, and said, "I hope you do, too."

And I meant it.

With a Perspective, I'm Lisa Thomson.

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Lisa Thomson is a marketer and writer. She lives in Oakland.

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