It’s one thing to face your own cancer diagnosis, what happens when someone close to you has to face that very same challenge?
The odds of that happening are, well, let’s call it a pretty sure thing. The good people compiling statistics in an office somewhere inform us that in the next few years, 2 out of 3 people will have to face that piece of bad (or is it good?) news. That’s a WHOLE LOT of people! Out of that whole lot of people, right this minute, two just happen to be closer-than-close relatives of mine.
First on that short list is my father. In the past six years, his cancer has travelled from prostate to bones to lung. Twenty-six pills, every single day, keep him on his feet. He is grateful for every minute. The time he gets to spend with his grandchildren is priceless, he says. Making up for the time he didn’t get to spend with me. His only regret, he tells me, weighing heavy on his heart. I’m glad he told me and I hope I was able to put his mind and soul at rest when I assured him I would not be the woman I am today if it hadn’t been for him, in spite – or rather because – of the choices he made and the huge impact they had on me. I owe my life and my strength to this man.
Next up, my dear dear friend (and cousin). The verdict is stage 4 lung cancer with only a few months to go – and yes, 55 years is a mighty short life. Nevertheless, she is ready to “clean house”! Clear away as much karmic clutter as she possibly can before going on to her next squeaky-clean life. She is carefully going through her to-do list, planning her final weeks, her exit, her next trip. A seasoned world-traveler with a one-way ticket in hand. She had hoped to see Peru next year. I told her to name the time and place and I would meet her there in the next life.
Both she and my dad could be in full-on pity-party mode but they’re not. They have chosen to live right here right now, every single moment in gratitude and wonder – even through the occasional fear, anxiety, sadness, anger and pain. I love how they both have a laugh at all the earthly things they won’t have to renew, replace or take care of in the months to come. Easier than planning retirement after 50 years on the job. No gold watch, just one final going away party.
Still. I will miss them both. A lot.
Judge no one.