Reminded

A friend posted this article on Facebook today. It is about a friend of her’s that has breast cancer. She is only 27 and she is dying. The doctors didn’t act in time, assuming she was too young and didn’t fit the mold for “normal” breast cancer patients. They waited too long to act, the cancer spread, and the chemo was too little, too late.

This article brought back all my memories of Tim and his final days in hospice care as the cancer consumed every corner of his body. Every moment was heartbreaking to Tim and to his friends and family who loved him so much. I can’t imagine anything more painful, physically and emotionally, than watching your loved one die before your eyes. Powerless to heal them or even make the unbearable physical agony go away, I can’t find words to express the helplessness I felt.

My heart breaks for the family and the girl who are living this terrible reality now.

With Tim, at least we could be grateful that he lived a full life in which he seized every moment and every opportunity for happiness. He had a beautiful loving wife whom he shared 26 wonderful years of marriage. He had a child whom he had raised into an amazing adult, 20 years old. He had incredible stories to share from special moments in his 57 years, including visiting Italy for his 25th anniversary (mere weeks before his diagnosis), seeing his beloved Giants win the world series (he had prophetically said at the beginning of the season, before cancer was even a thought in his mind, that if that happened, he could “die a happy man”), saw his son graduate high school and do incredible, selfless projects like build a car to raise money to donate to those in need in Darfur. Even though his life was cut short, with so many more experiences left undone and before he could fulfill one more dream, of growing old together with his wife and soul mate, he did live a life many would find enviable. He struggled through his share of trials even before the final cancer diagnosis, but he lived a full, active life with vitality and a smile. In that way, he was lucky.

The 27-year-old breast cancer patient has so much life yet to live. Being 28 myself, I can’t imagine what she must be going through. There are so many things I’m looking forward to: having kids and seeing the joy on the faces of my family as they play with the little ones; seeing the world with my husband; writing something that matters or makes a difference to someone; growing old and being amazed at how much the world will change. To have all those possibilities disappear before my eyes would be… well, there’s no adjective for it. I’ve tried to put myself in her shoes and tears instantly well up in my eyes. Hopeless. Helpless.

I’m saying prayers for her family because at times like these, what else can you do? I’m more spiritual than religious, and while even members of my family would say believing in some higher power is illogical, it is times like these when logic doesn’t make sense. A logical person would say she shouldn’t have gotten cancer. Tim shouldn’t have, either. Both healthy and relatively young, what logical explanation exists? The only thing I can find to take from this is that life is short. Sometimes so much shorter than we expect or planned.

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