Looking Back

I received some tragic news this evening.  My friend’s wife, someone who has been battling cancer for the last couple of years, is on her deathbed.  As I am typing this, I am not sure if she is still alive.

I really don’t know in which direction I want to go with this entry.  I was thinking about making it about me and my feelings about losing my dad last year…..but I won’t.  I was thinking about all my friends who have lost or are in danger of losing a loved one to cancer.  I will not write about them, but rather continue to say a prayer for them and their family.

Instead, I think I will make this entry a tribute to my friend’s wife.  I will not disclose any names out of courtesy and respect to my buddy and his family.  I’m not sure if he will ever get around to reading this, but nevertheless I don’t want to impose on his privacy.

When faced with a situation that results from tragedy and loss it is normal behavior to reflect on things we would do differently.  What would we change, and do we have any regrets?  I do.  I regret not getting to know my friend’s wife better.

I first met her over two years ago.  She and her husband came to my house to watch the National Championship game between UM and Ohio State.  I am sure she walked away from that experience thinking I was an obnoxious ‘Canes fan (isn’t that redundant?), and wondering how she could be married to someone who chooses to associate himself with me.  I did not see her again until just a couple of months ago, and by this time she looked very tired from her numerous treatments and her ongoing battle with a cancer that refused to stop spreading.

I look back now and realize that I missed out on the opportunity to get to know someone truly special.  I can say this because of what I see in everyone that knows her.  I see it in the man my friend is because of her.  I see it in the overwhelming sadness that envelopes those individuals who are close to her.  I won’t ever know what her impression of me is, but I wish I could tell her how much I admire her, even given the fact I met her only twice.

She and my friend have raised two amazing girls, both of which are young teenagers now.  Everyone you meet who knows my friend’s wife will tell you how wonderful she is.  They will tell you how strong she has been through her battles with cancer.  They will tell you how loving and giving she has always been.  Heck, it takes a special type of person to be a nurse, and my friend’s wife is special among special people.

It’s truly my loss that I never took the time to get to know her.  It’s truly my loss for taking for granted the idea of tomorrow, and the idea of death is always sobering like that.  We allow fears and thoughts of being uncomfortable to push aside that which is important.  We fool ourselves into thinking we can take care of it tomorrow, only to see tomorrow become next month or even next year.  We hide behind vagueness because specificity can be painful, not only to ourselves but also to others.

But specificity can also be tremendously rewarding if we are willing to make the time and make it happen.  I wrote last November about happiness and said, “…if you find something or someone that makes you happy, cherish it, celebrate it and hold on tight.  Let it captivate you.  Never be afraid to be happy, and never be ashamed to pursue that which brings happiness into your life.”  That feels so very true tonight.  The idea of death can be sobering like that.

To my friend, I pray that God gives you the strength and resolve to make it through this tragic time.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it is you are feeling, and I want to remind you that whatever you need, don’t hesitate to ask.  We are all here for you and your family, and we all love you.

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