Kristy was one of my childhood best friends. Quiet and bookish on the outside but impish and fearless to those who knew her well, she was my partner in crazy schemes. With all the industrious energy of nine year olds, we spent countless hours sewing pot pourri hearts, braiding friendship bracelets, and baking lemon squares and pecan pies to sell at the corner to passersby from church. We were trying to raise funds for a puppet stage, where we hoped to produce hand-drawn shows such as Rapunzel and the memorable musical Pick, Pick, Pick Your Nose. Years later, Kristy told me her mother discovered a whole bag of our scented hearts (still unsold) in Kristy’s childhood home.
I had always known Kristy to be a woman of prayer. However, it was not until Kristy began to battle cancer that I realized how indomitable was her faith and her desire to let God use her life–whatever pain, whatever limitation–to His glory. My childhood friend, my partner in escapades, thus grew into my hero, my role model, my intimate proof that suffering cannot shackle the soul.
I co-lead a drama therapy group for survivors of childhood trauma. Much of our work focuses on connecting to strengths, both as a means of maintaining safety and as a pathway to healing. One of the safety structures in the group is to name a person (real or fictional) as an interpersonal strength whose presence would support the healing of the group. Over and over again, I have found myself naming Kristy as my symbol of courage and grace in the midst of suffering.
I designed these cards as a strength-building tool to use in my groups. It seems only fitting that these cards also be dedicated to the friend whose example has so inspired and so grounded me in my work. May these cards be a blessing to all the brave men and women who are willing to gaze deeply into their own hearts and let compassion triumph again and again.
These cards are dedicated in loving memory of
Kristy Cheng Esporo,
my friend and hero.
Her blog unflinchingly records her battle with cancer,
in which she fought the good fight,
finished the course, and kept the faith.
[Trigger warning: Some of the photos and raw descriptions of her physical pain may be hard to view.]