I read a message today on the web from a friend who has been battling cancer for a year. She wrote an eloquent and moving post that I want you to see. I have taken out names and identifying markers, but left the beautiful heart of what she had to say. Somehow, when someone knows they are dying, it causes them to measure their words carefully.
“Family and Friends,
On Sunday I came home from the hospital for what I believe will be the last time based on how advanced things are. The doctor estimated that I have two weeks to live, but of course there is no way to know. For the rest of this week, the focus is on my family. My children, my Mother, and sister are coming to spend time with me. After they leave, I hope to be well enough to see friends and say good-byes.
Everyone handles death and dying differently, so please understand that if you want to stop by next week, my door will be open, obviously depending on how I am feeling at the time. If I am not up to having visitors, I know you will understand.
As I look back on my life, I see it as a mosaic; each tile is one of you because each of you has made me who I am. The experiences and time we have shared together are truly a part of me. Some of you are large, dominant pieces – my family; some are smaller chips, as we have not had much time together. Yet without all of you, the “me” that I see in the mirror would be incomplete. My gratitude for the gifts of your love and your friendship knows no bounds and cannot be defined by words alone.
You have inspired me, supported me, and shared your lives with me – whether it was singing together in the church choir as teenagers, raising our kids together, spending time on the bleachers, or sharing your faith with me in Bible studies and Sunday school.
We are all different colors, sizes, and shapes in that mosaic and isn’t that the best part of friendships? We accept each other “as is”.
I have been blessed over my 66 years with three beautiful, kind, and loving children . Then came my “bonus children” who folded into our family like delightful new ingredients that made my favorite recipe even better. They love each other very much and I pray that they will stay close. They are scattered across the country.
My husband is the lynchpin. Our children all love, respect, and admire him very much. That love has grown immeasurably over this past year as they have watched him care for me. Florence Nightingale has nothing on him.
My prayer to all of you is simple – love each other, forgive those you need to forgive, not because they have earned it (chances are they never will), but for your own peace of mind. We have all heard the expression “holding onto a grudge or anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” What a waste of time and energy!
Get out of your routine; do something you have been wanting to do, but putting off. Smile at everyone. Laugh a lot. Retaining a sense of humor will help you get through some messy moments.
The sincerely spoken words, “I’m sorry”, carry more healing power than the strongest medicine ever created. Don’t let pride get in the way of using these precious words generously.
I love Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Every kind word, card, e-mail, and phone call you made to me over this past year was you changing my world. You took the time to reach out, to lift my spirits, to make me smile and laugh, or cry tears of gratitude. Your tender kindness did make a difference. I only wish I could give each of you a long, warm hug in return.
God has been with me throughout this long and difficult journey. He has allowed me to fall apart, to cry, to feel the impact of this disease not just on me, but on my husband and my children. I pray that He will comfort them now as they realize that I will be at peace and never really leave them.
Each time I sank into the fatigue chemo patients feel, each time I received more bad news from a CT scan or test, He let me have those very real feelings of fear and despair, then helped me find my spirit and determination anew. He took my hand and led me back to hope. No, it has not turned out the way we have all prayed for, but now God is teaching me acceptance.
My prayer for all of you is the same as what I ask for myself – peace in your heart and a sense of calm in your soul.
Thank you for being a blessing in my life and a part of my mosaic. Please continue to hold our family in your prayers. My love to you — forever.