A little more time
One of my friends from where I used to live died this morning. Apparently she went to the ER Friday night with her husband because she wasn’t feeling well and they discovered that she was in kidney failure. Because she had bone cancer. Her organs began shutting down over the next few hours… and then she died.
Amy was her name. We were not close friends at all, had never moved beyond the casual stage of friendship that I often stall out at with people. She was very kind, always smiling, never complaining. She was happy. She had 2 kids, a husband with whom she’d recently celebrated her 11th anniversary, a job that allowed her to work from home. The chronic back pain she just couldn’t resolve ended up being the cancer that killed her.
As I read and re-read the postings online from others who knew this fine woman, the theme I see is that everyone felt she was kind, gentle, calm, generous – and most people said they didn’t know her that well, like me.
It suddenly struck me – she was reaching out to people. She was trying to connect with her kindness. She was, probably, as lonely as I was. I misinterpreted her smile as that of someone who already had things figured out. We were not that different. We ARE not that different.
So now I am left with a pain in my chest and a new lesson learned from someone who I didn’t know that well. I wish I could somehow rewind the last year and a half of my life so that I could reciprocate her offers of friendship. I would return the phone calls, commit to playdates. I would chat with her longer when I bumped into her, instead of inching away to continue shopping. I would have gone trick or treating with her, and to the party she invited us to at her church – even though I don’t typically do church. But I would, if I had the chance again. Please?
I wish I knew the details so that I could process it all and move on, but I don’t so I am left to imagine the different scenarios and play them out in my head like a matinee. Did she know when she left her house, her kids, her dogs on Friday night that she would never be walking through her front door again? Did she know, after they figured out what was going on, that she had cancer? Did she get the chance to see her kids’ sweet faces one final time, knowing it was the last time? Was someone holding her hand when she passed away? Was she afraid?
I am betting that she was not thinking about things she hadn’t done, wrongs she wanted to right, past hurts. She probably only wanted…a little more time.
People say that life is short, but you know it really isn’t. What happens is we get so caught up in the past – things done to us or that we have done to others, the shoulds, coulds, woulds; and the future – the wants and get-to’s, gotta haves and somedays; that we forget life is happening right now. And this is all there is, folks. Life is making dinner, putting the kids to bed, folding clothes. It can be dull, and not usually how we expected it to be. But it is, in the end, what we will desire the most when our time is up.
Tonight, I sat next to my daughter on the couch and smelled the soap on her hands and felt her pull my hair as she twirled it. I listened to her suck her thumb. I looked at my own mother, and realized that her eyes have a real sparkle to them. I watched my son trying to pretend that he wasn’t tired. I thought to myself, my husband is pretty attractive in a t-shirt, which is true.
It is a charmed life. Cherish it. Now.