Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Live today: tomorrow is not promised

One of my oldest and dearest friends has cancer. While I have every reason to believe she will get better -- and she believes it too -- it is scary.

She actually had it last year too in a cancerous colon polyp, but didn't have to endure chemo or radiation. It was an amazingly easy and swift recovery, and none of us really worried much because it was so contained.

But she has stage IIIa uterine cancer that spread to an ovary, although not any lymph nodes (blessings!), and we are waiting to hear about a teensy spot on her lung that was biopsied yesterday. Surgery is done and she'll do chemo, radiation, then more chemo, and tells me she expects to lose her hair.

She's more than 2,000 miles away from me, and I want to make it better. I want to give her hugs, to take her to the doctor, to fix food for her, to laugh at silly things with her, to visit the apple orchard we used to go to when I lived there, to enjoy the leaves that are turning.

Unlike me, who researches a subject until I know as much as I can possibly learn, she is okay with knowing enough about what to expect, but not too much. She is positive and while she says that she really doesn't want to play this game, she'll do whatever she's told to do in order to get it gone. And she will, too.

I'll go visit her when she needs me to come, whether that is sooner or later. She'll know. So will I.

Meanwhile, she has marvelous friends there who are taking care of her, and children who do too. She is well loved, and I tell her that's because she is such a good friend back to them. When we lived in the same town some 20 plus years ago, I went through a really rough patch and pretty much shut down emotionally, doing what I needed to do -- take care of my daughter, go to work, make sure things were running smoothly -- but I couldn't take anyone expressing sympathy or caring and would dissolve into puddles, so I just didn't listen to that, wouldn't hear it. I didn't go to choir, to church, or anywhere I might be with people who cared about me.

She wouldn't let me isolate. She literally banged on my front door until I opened it and let her in, and dissolved more than once into sobs on her shoulders. And she protected me from making a public display of my emotions too -- she stayed close by when we were with others who knew I was having a hard time, and kept things light.

She has gone through some of her own dark nights too, and I was there for her, although by then I lived that 2000 miles away, but I sent cards and letters, and she couldn't respond back for several years because it was too painful. And when we reconnected, when she finally wrote me all about it, it was like no time had passed.

It's like that when we see each other. We grow older, we grow wiser, we experience things (and tell each other about them), via e-mail and phone calls, but when we're together for our brief, every-few-years visits, it's like we saw each other only yesterday. I am so grateful for her long years of friendship and love.

She forwarded me an e-mail yesterday. I've done a bit of editing, but it says the same things I've so often said in these posts -- life is short. Life is uncertain. Tell people you love them NOW. Read on:

One day a woman's husband died, and on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't “anymore.” No more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute." Sometimes what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say good-bye, say "I love you."

So while we have it, it's best we love it, care for it, fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage.....And old cars.... And children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.

So I was thinking...I could die today, tomorrow or next week, and I wondered if I had any wounds needing to be healed, friendships that needed rekindling or three words needing to be said.

Let every one of your friends know you love them. Even if you think they don't love you back, you would be amazed at what those three little words and a smile can do.And just in case I'm gone tomorrow, I love you. Live today because tomorrow is not promised.

No comments: