This is my friend, Cary Garcia . . .
On October 7, 2002,
Four days later, so was I.
We’d been acquaintances before. But the moment we discovered this terrible connection, we became fast friends, sharing information, sympathy and laughter. Yes, laughter. What a great antidote to fear, guilt and worry! There were flurries of e-mails between us, comparing symptoms and new realities.
And there were visits. Our families got together whenever we could. Cary and I occasionally met halfway between our homes for lunch as well.
I wondered what the waiter thought of the two bald women at his table when Cary and I met for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Bold and wild,
After three months of intense chemotherapy that required several hospitalizations, I was deemed cancer-free. Not fear-free, but cancer-free.
I stopped with the guilt. And I helped
Together, we flew on three planes to get to an ovarian cancer survivor’s retreat in
This was the view from our cabin . . .
And here’s a photo with
Camp Mak-a-Dream is an amazing place. Besides the ovarian cancer retreat, they have another retreat for women with cancer, but mostly retreats for children who need a break from the sadness of cancer. If you want to relieve yourself of a few bucks, you could find worse places to donate.
Five years after our diagnoses,
Here we all are, having a great time together . . .
This summer is bad.
She’s ready to be done.
I visited her at home last week. She hardly looked like herself, lying on the living room sofa, under the Christmas quilt someone had made for her. Her voice was a hoarse whisper.
It was hard to be there, to say good-bye to my friend, but I felt honored to spend time with her during these last days.
Well, friend, “I love you, too.” You’ve helped me sail through some rough waters.
Life is hard sometimes. It just is.
Last night, I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. It made me cry, but it was full of life and love and lessons I wanted to impart to our sons. When I’d seen Randy Pausch’s lecture on the Internet, his wife, Jai, hugged him at the end and whispered something into his ear.
“I wonder what she’d whispered,” I said to my husband.
At the end of Mr. Pausch’s book, I found out. Jai held onto him and said into his ear, “Please don’t die.”
All he could do was hug her more tightly.
This morning, feeling sad, I took myself to the beach, a place that always makes me feel centered and serene and grateful.
I looked out at the calm water and thought of
Then I walked along the water’s edge, small fish darting near my feet.
I passed men fishing, families splashing in the smooth water, couples strolling along the beach, a woman checking a sea turtle nest. Everyone was friendly when we passed each other. And there was a glorious breeze off the water as I walked, but those dark clouds grew larger. And darker.
Lost in my thoughts, I kept walking until I came to a jetty.
While appreciating the landscape, an older woman, Dolores, came over and told me about her husband and two sons, ten grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a sister who didn’t marry until she was in her 70’s. What a life! I touched Dolores’ hand, told her how nice it was to meet her and said I’d better head back because those dark clouds were getting closer. Dolores headed off to her car.
As I walked back along the water’s edge, I felt drops plink onto my skin. It was a long way back. I picked up my pace.
When the raindrops got fatter and fell faster, I jogged. Then ran. I don’t mind getting soaked, I told myself, as long as there is no lightning.
With that, the sky opened up with a sharp crack of thunder. As long as there is no lightning. Lightning sizzled in a jagged line into the ocean.
Rain fell in fat pellets from dark clouds. Thunder boomed so loud, I huddled against the noise. And lightning continued to sizzle.
I noticed a woman standing under an overhang at a small bathroom and chugged up a hill of sand toward her. Another crack of thunder. I leapt off the sand, intending to go into the bathroom until the storm passed, but saw a car pulling out of a spot in the parking lot. Forget the bathroom! I charged toward that car, waving my arms.
The driver stopped, rolled down the window, and before I could say, “Could you drive me to my car?” he yelled, “Get in! Get in!”
“Thanks so much,” I said, water dripping down my face. “I was going to take cover in the bathroom, but—“
“It’s a good thing you didn’t,” the man said. “The bathrooms are locked. Where’s your car?”
I told him.
The woman turned toward me. “I’m Connie and this is
When I got out of the car, before I could get into mine, a bolt of lightning sizzled nearby and thunder crashed. I dove into my car, took a deep breath and drove home, grateful for Connie and Gary. Grateful for the kindness of strangers.
Connie and Gary reminded me how much I have to be grateful for.
One of the things for which I’m profoundly grateful is
Life is precious. All we can do is embrace it by living well, being kind to strangers, kinder to those we love and kindest to ourselves, hugging our kids (even though they drive us crazy sometimes), working hard and being profoundly grateful for blessings, like friends who are true and honest until the end.