So on Monday, a friend let me know she was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in the lungs and is foregoing treatment. She is older, and I can understand her decision.
My husband’s grandmother made the same decision when she was diagnosed over a decade ago with breast cancer at 82. She lived for a few more good years, without going through the sometimes painful and stressful treatment.
My mother, who died a couple of years ago, was only 62 when she received her diagnosis and nearly died–and her decision to undergo treatment was made by my brother (for the record, I would have made the same decision in that instant). We had six more years to spend with her, but the treatment was almost a year long and brutal for her. Her last three years was very hard as the initial treatment to save her life was radiation on the brain, and eventually caused early dementia.
I am eternally grateful for those extra years, though.
This news from my writing friend threw me. It is hard losing folx you love. I’ve lost more people to cancers, friends and family alike, than I ever thought I would when I was younger. I’ve lost a younger friend who battled breast cancer three times (I found out from the newspaper); three women from my church (two more who survived–so far).
My grandfather said once that it was hard to read the obituary columns when you recognize the names you see more than you don’t. I now know what he meant, the feeling he felt.
I don’t read obituaries. Not anymore.
And as I’ve discussed before, I write when I mourn.
This is a little different, as I’m mourning before she’s gone. Which may be easier–I know I have things I should say, and though she does not want visitors (talking causes coughing which causes pain), I have written some emails to her, expressing my joy at meeting her, reading her writing, and eating her wonderful Japanese cooking.
I’ve also let her know that I will deeply miss her and that my heart is already aching for her.
So, here is her poem:
My aching heart hears
one last gasped breath of friendship
and you will be gone.