There are times when you are very much on my mind – I never met you, or spoke with you but you had a profound impact on me – there is a lesson there. As I face an upcoming scan or fight through the sometimes mind numbing fatigue caused by previous treatment and current medication, I think of you.
Our paths crossed only once. It was probably twenty years ago. My girls were around ten and seven. We, as a family had spent the day doing what families in the south do on crisp fall days – go outside however we can! On that day we had attended a local fair complete with rides and over-the-top combinations of fried foods (I mean fried oreo cookies – ummm no thank you!)
It was as we were leaving for the day that I saw you. You were, like us, getting on the shuttle that would take us all back to where we parked – me with my family and you with yours. Your husband was so gentle with you – helping you to your seat. Your boys were being boys but a little more subdued than normal. And you – you were dying.
I could see it in your eyes when they met mine. It was evident in the way your bones were too visible beneath your translucent skin. It was there in your weak smile as you responded to a comment your youngest said.
This is your story and I have struggled with the telling of it. But the moment that our lives touched I was in many ways changed. I didn’t stare but I did notice. And what I noticed amazed me! You are my hero!
At the time I remember thinking, how are you here? How could you possibly bear to be in that loud, with noise and odor place. You were frail, sickly and dying and yet you were there. As I put my healthy arms around my healthy babies I thought how can she – you possibly say good-bye.
You did – I’m sure have to say good-bye. It was obvious that day. I am sure your boys were sad – their lives forever changed and your husband devastated. I think of them often – wonder how they are – hold them close. I wonder if they knew the gift you gave them that day. You were present – creating one more memory with the little strength you had left, a memory to be cherished and to hopefully help carry them through their pain.
Twenty years ago our paths crossed – no words were spoken but the impact was profound. I have carried you with me all these years. The lesson you taught me was the power of being present to those around us no matter the circumstances. It is one that I continue to struggle with – even after my own cancer diagnosis taking time too often for granted as I do.
You taught me that our lives speak in ways that we can’t even imagine. You made me consider what my life says and what I want it to say – what my life is divinely called to say.
I am grateful for you. I think of you often.