A couple weeks ago, when I was at the funeral home to pay my respects for my friend who had died of metatastic breast cancer, I was deeply ashamed of myself for not having been more involved in the final days of her life.
The funeral home was packed that night. Really crowded, and we had to wait. I stood behind the parents of one of Cara's friends. That friend had been very helpful to Cara away from home for the first time and hearing that I had cancer. Meggie stepped right up to the plate. She had been through this before. She had been in high school when her mother was diagnosed, and she had been a great comfort to Cara.
I chatted with her mother as we waited in line. The mother is doing well now. Meggie's a teacher in Michigan now. Some other people recognized me from the paper, and came forward to tell me how much my writing and friendship had meant to Bev. It made me uncomfortable, made me feel even more guilty.
I was surrounded by Bev's smile. It gleamed at me from her sister's face, and her sons. Nieces. Nephews. There were pictures everywhere, and in all of them, there was that smile. Bev's wonderful smile.
As I waited, I listened to the stories, I realized that although her life had been hard, she was able to hold on to that smile, and that smile had been a huge encouragement for everyone around her. She had touched lives. She'd been on the board of the corporation that I am doing clinicals at right now. I knew that she had a handicapped son. I knew that she was devoted to him. I never realized that that devotion had led her to do work which ultimately impacted on the lives of many, many people. I listened to those stories all around me, and I felt so very badly that I'd wasted those last few days, that I'd missed the opportunity to tell her what a marvel she was.
I missed it. I walked out of the funeral home into a downpour and lightning made clear what I had not seen before.
Cancer has changed me. Although I function and go through day to day living, I hold myself apart. There are things that I refuse to think on. There are things that frighten me to contemplate. In the end, though, I have to say, my prognosis is the same as everyone reading.
We will all live until we die.
Difficult people have changed me. For years now, I have simply withdrawn. Unsure of what to say or how to handle things, I simply avoid those people. I'm tired of their criticisms. That avoidance has lapped over...I spend too much time alone avoiding all people. I tend to believe that people will not like me.
Failing a child has changed me, and I spend a lot of time agonizing about that. But the fact is, I can't fix it. I can't. I can only pray, say the right things, and step back and let God work.
I am self conscious and awkward and uncertain. I've spent a lot of time feeling awful about things.
A long time ago, I had a dream. Our lives had been shattered, my children's and my own. I was trying to gather all these broken pieces of my life, to put things back together again, but I couldn't. There were pieces missing. I looked and I looked, clutching the pieces that I had close to my chest. I was trying to hard to make things right for my children, but I could not. I couldn't. In my dream, I admitted what I couldn't bring myself to realize when I was awake. In the dream, I accepted that our lives would NEVER be the same.
But in that dream, as I accepted the unacceptable, I looked down at the armload that I clutched so closely and so fiercely. I threw all those pieces up in the air, as hard and as high as I could, and the pieces went impossibly high, catching in the sunlight, glittering brightly, and then they began to rain gently all around me. On the ground, they fell into a pattern, a beautiful mosaic. The pieces were used to created something new. And it was beautiful.
That's how I feel right now. I don't know how to explain it any better than that, not really. I feel like I'm living that dream, as if I'm in the midst of re-creation.