'Jar of hearts': P.E.I. woman gathers 365 messages of support for ailing friend
When health complications began taking a toll on a friend, a P.E.I. woman collected 365 messages of love and support so that he would have something to lift his spirits every day for a year.
Leslie Labobe of Lennox Island First Nation lost two toes to diabetes in 2017.
In September, he fell and suffered compression fractures in his spine.
Being bedridden was particularly difficult for a man who used to work helping others as a paramedic and on humanitarian missions across the world.
“I did, I think, about eight natural disasters,” Labobe said. “From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Los Angeles earthquakes, Georgia floods (and the) Puerto Rico hurricane.”
Madlene Sark has been friends with Labobe for more than two decades. Recently, she says, she began noticing changes in her once-bubbly friend.
When he posted a cry for help online, she realized that he was falling into a dark place.
“I saw a post on Facebook at one time and just the morale in the post was not Leslie,” Sark said. “It was like I was reading something from a stranger.”
Wanting to help, Sark took to social media to ask Labobe’s friends from across the globe to send kind words his way. More than 200 people responded.
From their responses, Sark handwrote 365 messages on paper hearts and stuck them in jars to create what she calls a “jar of hearts” so that Labobe could have a message of support every day for a year.
Sark explained that she did it “so that he knew every single day, that no matter what, he’s cared for.”
Labobe says that he was speechless when he first opened a jar. It was exactly the pick-me-up that he needed.
“At 12:01 every night, I open up one of the jars and it just gives me inspiration,” he said.
With a CTV Atlantic camera rolling, Labobe opened one of those messages.
“Les, you are a very strong and courageous person with a heart as big as the universe,” Labobe read aloud. “You are an amazing man and I am so proud to call you my friend.”
Labobe plans to hang all the hearts on his Christmas tree next year.