So, at the moment, the tips of my fingers are a bit sore. Not blistered exactly, but a little dry and worn. I'm sure I'll be fine. I just need a little more hand cream I think.

It's true that I don't have what my mum used to call workman's hands (she'd raise her eyebrows knowingly when she said that phrase, as in; 'he's got workman's hands, you know...' To this day, I've no idea what she meant, I daren't ask. To be honest, I don't want to know), but my mitts are no stranger to hard work. I used to know my way around a variety of factories and workshops in a past life, and I have been known to get a 'dab-on' in the garden from time to time, but the source of my (very mild) discomfort this time isn't a power tool, a sledgehammer, an axe or a garden fork. No, it's paper.

That's right, you heard me, it's paper that's leaving a trail on my fingers. Origami paper to be exact. A thousand sheets of origami paper to be even more precise, which is a lot; a hell of a lot if you start to think about it. I've not started a new hobby or anything like that, nor am I making a fresh bid for some kind of cultural acceptance, though lord knows I should, but my family and I are currently engaged in folding a 1000 origami cranes. The beautiful Japanese bird, not the heavy lifting machinery you understand. Although, after folding several hundred of the little critters, I do wish there was some kind of heavy machine I could utilize to do the folding for me.

I don't know whether you're familiar with this particular Japanese custom - you can find out more about it here - but basically, it's to do with making a wish and/or bestowing good fortune. The making of 1000 cranes features in many old Japanese stories. In some the maker is seeking to have a wish come true, in others the wish or good fortune is being passed to another. For example, it's a common gesture for the father of a bride to bestow 1000 years (one for each of the cranes) of happiness and prosperity to his daughter and her new husband in this way. When someone is sick or facing a major operation, giving a gift such as this, will help the maker to achieve both of these. They want to fulfil their own wish, and they want to bestow the good fortune of a speedy and full recovery on their loved one. For this reason, 1000 cranes is a popular gift for special friends and family.

Sadly, the latter is my reason for this current undertaking. Once we've finished folding our 1000 cranes, they'll be flying over to my sister in England, where they'll hopefully give her a little encouragement as she tries to handle the cards she's just been dealt.

Two weeks ago she was diagnosed with cancer. It's devastating news for her and for all who know her, but she's a strong lady, everybody knows it, and that gives us a lot of hope for a positive outcome. The doctors are positive too, it's early stages and operable, and they've indicated better than average chances of a full recovery. But it is a major operation; a terrifying operation, and I'm sure it's a lot of fear that she's currently hiding so well.

It came out of nowhere, as these things often do, and just when it had seemed that a path of calm and serenity had opened up before her; blindsided. And it's difficult to know what to say and what to do to help with that. So often we end up doing little other than offering platitudes, and feeling useless. Some of those platitudes though, as Hannibal Buress recently pointed out, are so useless that they're actually funny, which I guess is a little help, with laughter being the best medicine and all.

'I'll pray for you':

'So, basically, you're going to sit at home and do nothing. That's what your prayers are, you doing nothing while I struggle with my situation. Don't pray for me, do something useful, like make me a sandwich or something, because I'm very upset right now and I can't make my own sandwich. So, that'd be really great if you made me a sandwich instead of praying.'

'I'll keep you in my thoughts':

'What with all the other shit in your head? No thanks. I hear some of that shit you talk about; if that's close to what you're thinking about, then I don't want you to keep me in your thoughts. So keep my out of your thoughts, unless you're thinking of making me and my family sandwiches.'

So, in a quest to avoid feeling useless and inert, and through a desire to do something constructive, helpful, meaningful; just to do something, anything, my family and I are making 1000 origami cranes and with them, and the positive energy we believe they will generate, we are hoping to make a difference for my sister.

And so, at the moment, the tips of my fingers are a bit sore. But, so what? My sister has cancer, I'd gladly cut off all my fingers, my arm, my leg, whatever, if it meant that she'd be cured. Making a wish, and sending it to her with all my love and best wishes, seems to be the least I can do.


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