It’s been about a year now since you found out that you were sick. It’s been a lot to absorb. I remember when you told me that the Doctor called and wanted to see you in the office for your results. My heart instantly sank. We talked about the possibilities of what could be said and its probability. We talked about what it meant. An abundance of emotions flooded my mind, ups and downs. I put on a brave face. I could only imagine what you must have felt. I told you how I’d be with you every step of the way. I knew in my heart as the knot in my stomach and the lump in my throat grew so big it hurt that I had no idea how I was going to be strong enough for you and for me. I just knew I had to find the strength and I would have to dig deep.
I will never forget that day as we sat in the office waiting. The feeling as we waited. I watched you anxiously waiting for them to enter the room. You could barely sit still. I remember you just wanting to get it over with, saying that you knew if you had to come into the office it was bad news. The doctor entered and quickly dropped the news, the ever so dreaded C word. I can’t imagine having that as part of my job to hand out that kind of news. It was apparent that in your mind you had already accepted this would be the news they gave you. You quickly begged for at least a couple more years, there were people, a very specific person you had to know were going to be okay and as those words left your mouth, that’s when the tears came. Your reality hit. Not only for you but for me sitting there with you. I kept telling myself I couldn’t fall apart now, I had to be strong. I sat holding your hand, fighting back my own tears. Very quickly without much time to even process the diagnosis, CAT scans, blood work, chemo all became very familiar procedures. I remember the look on your face as they told you that you would definitely lose your hair with this particular combination of chemotherapy. You were angry. I can only pretend to imagine what you felt. We boldly declared it would be okay, we would get you a wig. Your face however told the real story about your thoughts on that. You kept your composure for the most part as we left the doctors office that day. You told me you needed some time to yourself as we arrived home for me to drop you off. I reluctantly obliged. You pushed forward through whatever you were feeling. You made the choice to fight. For months you had been dealing with pain. You told me you felt relief in a sense at least having a definite explanation and a plan to get past this.
You explained you needed to think about how and when you were going to tell your family, the person you worried about most. Every time you thought about that one person you were most worried about leaving behind, the tears would come. You called me the next day and told me that you had spoke with the big man upstairs and you were at peace with your decision. I again assured you I would be there every step of the way. I promised that someone would be there for every appointment, every treatment, the days you felt sick, surgery, for the days you just needed to cry or be angry. With the help from family we kept that promise. You never had to go alone. You went through all your chemo treatments with determination and grace. You went through surgery and the recovery with a strength I have never seen. You took no pain medication, you refused. You took only Tylenol to take some of the edge off. There were times in church you would squeeze my hand through the pain. I wish I could have taken it away. Many days I secretly cried when I got in my car to leave your house and go home.
We spent a great deal of time together through these months. Although we didn’t have lunch dates like we once did and you didn’t come for as many games as you normally did. I valued the time. It was hard the times we came to the game and looked up and your seat was empty. I knew how much you wanted to be there. I hate the circumstances but the time I was able to spend with you those last ten months was so valuable to me. The talks we had, the laughter, the tears. The days we watched Hallmark movie after hallmark movie. The stories of your childhood and your family. The stories of your husband and the joy I saw on your face as you told me. It became a normal part of my day to want to call you and tell you about something that happened or run you over some dinner etc. I looked forward to our time. I loved that you knew how much I loved my husband as you told me I look at him the same as you did yours. I didn’t have to tell you how much things meant to me or explain things I shared with you because as you once told me, it was like I was from a different time, an old soul in a younger body. You and I were a lot alike you told me. I am proud of that.
I learned so much from you while on this journey with you. I learned what it truly meant to do things for someone simply out of love with no expectations. You always were insistent that you would do something to repay me for taking care of you. I got my reward ten fold, your love and respect. It was far more valuable to me than any material or monetary offering you could have presented. I learned what it meant to make something a priority at all cost and to follow through. You taught me how to be mindful of things we do not normally pay attention to. You taught me about being a nurse to someone close to me, the ups and downs it brings. You taught me how to endure a loved one lashing out in frustration and how not to take it personally but to love them harder. You taught me the importance of being present, being in the moment and not distracted. I was honored that you felt comfortable enough for me to see you at your most vulnerable state, your weakest, being in great pain. I was honored that you allowed me to be there for you. I know that was difficult for you, you were one of the most independent people I have ever met. It taught me that I have to let others in. It taught me that no matter how much I think I can take care of myself, there will come a time it requires me to let someone in. I learned other things from you as well. I learned the value of forgiveness, I learned what having too much pride effects a person and the emptiness it leaves behind. I learned that we don’t always have to be right. I learned that sometimes it is imperative we forgive and forget. I learned that holding grudges does nothing but eat away at our hearts and as you told me we have to give it to God to sort out. You taught me how to believe in my faith and let no one alter that for me. You had faith until your last breath and you were ready when he decided it was your time.
Losing you has been one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. You were so dear to my heart. A piece is missing, you have it up there in heaven with you. A song comes on the radio or a movie on tv and I instantly think of you. It hits hard when I look over and see your kitty cat snuggled up on the couch or I go to want to call you or stop by and reality hits and I have to face your gone. I find myself asking if I did enough for you. I find myself pleading with God to show me a sign that you knew how much I loved you and how much you impacted my life. There is a saying that speaks to something about knowing a person for a short amount of time and knowing more about them than a person you have known all your life. I feel like that about you. I am so thankful God put you in my path. I will be forever grateful for the time I did have. For now I will take one day at a time. I will smile with all the memories I have and all the times we shared. I will look forward to the time I see you again and know that you are up there watching over us. It reminds me when you told me that I was earning a special angel in heaven while taking care of you, it never dawned on me that special angel would be you.