The mother of two of my students is coming to the end of her life. She was diagnosed with leukemia in June and her condition is deteriorating rapidly now.
For the family’s privacy, I shall call her Jane.
Words are failing me. I have no way of expressing how sad I feel for her family. Her children are aged 11 and 9. The idea of these two sweet kids growing up without their mom just breaks my heart. And I just can’t believe how fast this has all gone down. To go from the picture of health to being at death’s door in just a matter of a few short months…just shocking. She’s had no time to prepare, for her family to prepare.
But such is life, I suppose. Countless others have had even less time to prepare.
As if a person can truly prepare for these things anyway, no matter how much time one’s given.
I just feel sad.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Jane lately, ever since I was told of her diagnosis. I too was 11 years old when my dad was diagnosed with cancer for the first time. I remember feeling so scared about what was happening. I remember having vivid, intense dreams from which I awoke with tears streaming from my eyes. In these dreams, my dad would be wanting to leave for some unspecified place, and I would be sobbing, begging him to stay just a little longer.
I didn’t lose my dad at age 11. Against all odds, my mom and I went on to enjoy nearly 17 more years with him. That is how we consoled ourselves when he eventually passed away from an entirely different cancer. Even though my dad was only age 56 at the time of his death, even though we felt so much grief and regret at the thought of all the things he never got to do, we reminded ourselves that he could’ve been taken from us so, so much earlier. We think of those blessed 17 years as an unexpected gift that we were given. It was time with him that countless others never got or will not have with their loved ones.
Never have I felt more grateful or blessed for those extra 17 years as when I heard yesterday that Jane was not going to make it.
I am so, so glad that Jane has a wonderful extended family around to help. And friends! I teach a number of families who all live in her area and who are all good friends. Their children are also good friends with each other and all attend the same school (and take piano lessons from me ). One of the other moms told me today that they all have a “food calendar” going for Jane’s family; they take turns delivering food to them, and meals have already been scheduled all the way to the 1st week of November. As well, they take turns inviting Jane’s children to their homes, and keep them occupied and in good company.
That is simply wonderful to hear. Jane and her family are in the midst of the Great Crisis of their lives. And these are the little things that one can do to ease the burden, to make a crushingly difficult time just a little bit lighter to bear.
I know they will all be ok. Somehow, some way, we all come out of these crises eventually. The world will be forevermore changed, but we do all make it through in whatever way we can.
For now, all I can do is keep Jane and her family in my thoughts and prayers.
I know it’s almost become a cliche these days, but please, tell your loved ones that you love them, hug them, and find that place in your heart to feel grateful for all the blessings in your life today.