My friend was buried today. She dies 2 days ago. This is the 3ed person I have known in the past 6 months who has prematurely died of cancer. She was the most tragic. 39 years old. A mother of 2 young children. A dear wife. An active member of our community. I attend the funeral a few hours ago. I tried to put on my game face, and tried to remind myself that I was there for others. But when I saw her 6 year old son walk into that room and pass her coffin with his hand in his fathers, I could not hold my poker face any longer. I lost it and wept along with all the others.
I did not know her well, but I knew her. I knew her when she was pregnant with her 2ed child who is now 3. I had coffee with her and made her eat an Egg McMuffin because she had lost so much weight after a bad bout of pain and medication. I talked with her about her long trips to Baltimore and to NIH for her ‘new, experimental treatment’. I was able to make her laugh.
I was in awe of her strength. She held it together for her family, her friends and for her community. And when she could hold it together no longer, she slowly withdrew and disappeared. Lucky for us, our memories are filled with her as healthy, strong, and optimistic. Not weak, thin, and dying.
I wanted to go up to her little boy today and say, ‘Do you know I believe? I believe that your mother is still with you. And that if you listen really, really hard to can hear her, or feel her, or see her. I believe that if you close your eyes she will say something to you, or will give you some sort of sign that will help you along your way’.
I believe there must be a cure. I believe in the prevention of cancer. I believe in the HPV vaccine which could have prevented her cervical cancer and her eventual demise. I believe drug companies are self serving, but that they can help in the prevention of untimely death.
The disappointing parent teacher conference I had with my 6-year-old’s teacher, or what middle school my 11 year old will ultimately go to in September, feels trivial. The diet I blew by eating chocolate all day to comfort myself feels like a distant and petty goal right now.
I believe the only good thing about death is it puts everything in perspective for those of us who are still alive.
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