The first journal entry was written September 20, 2008. What follows this entry is my current journal update of April 20, 2009. This is also my first interview with a living hero for the UBBT.
TIME-September 20, 2008
I’m having lunch Monday, September 22, with a friend of mine. So what, right? Well, let me tell you about my friend. She moved here from N. Carolina seven years ago. We became friends, and I was very honored and blessed to be the person that was with her when her daughter was born six years ago.
We gradually started losing touch with each other. The visits were farther apart, as were the phone calls. We still had the friendship, it just was kind of on the back burner.
Three years ago she was diagnosed with cancer. Operations and follow up chemo. I visited her when she was in the hospital. Did some follow up phone calls. And, again, we drifted apart.
Three weeks ago she was in the hospital again. And, as always, “B” was cheerful, asking how I was doing. Smiling when I walked in the door, even though I knew she was in a lot of pain.
She is 42 years old. A single mom of a six year old girl.
She is dying. The doctors have told her that there is nothing they can do. No more operations, no more chemo. No more hope.
42 years old.
You know what one of the biggest fears every parent has? That they will not be there to help and guide their children to adulthood.
“B” is fighting to see her daughter grow up. To be there to hold her when she is hurt, to celebrate birthdays, a wedding, a victory.
I know, and she knows, that she is going to a better place where she will not suffer anymore. “B” has the strongest faith of anyone I have ever met. A serenity and peace about life and its hardships. But I also know that her biggest fear is leaving her daughter.
We all have the same amount of time in a day. But we don’t know how much time we really have.
I wish I had spent more time with “B”.
As I look at my life, and how I spend my time, I realize that I throw away so much of something very precious. Every minute that I waste staring at silly TV shows, playing solitaire on the computer, surfing the internet, is time that cannot be put to good use. Time that I didn’t spend with my daughter, with my family, with my friends, with helping others. I don’t know how much time I have, but I am going to use it wisely.
Monday, I’ll have lunch with “B”. She has an idea of how much time she has left. And it breaks my heart.
AN UPDATE ON TIME-April 20, 2009
I didn’t have lunch with B in September. She was too sick from chemo to meet with me. And yet again, I let time slip away.
I saw her when I took Keely to the church Easter Egg hunt last Saturday. Her great smile, warm hug, asking how I was. I felt about two inches tall.
We set a date, that day, for breakfast on Friday, which was last week, April 17.
We sat on my deck in the sun, drank coffee and ate strawberries. We talked, we laughed, we cried.
B is on a brief break from chemo, she’s allergic to all of the poison that they have been flooding her body with. Her body has become so weak and tired that she needed to stop chemo just to try to build some strength up. Before starting again. She’s still working, she has no choice. It’s a struggle. Finances are a struggle. Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other is a struggle. She is living with pain and fatigue every day, at a rate that I just cannot imagine.
And she smiles, and laughs, and talks about how good God is.
The cancer, which spread to her liver, is not operable. Chemo is the only hope. There are only seven types of chemo that can be used for her type of cancer, and she seems to be allergic to all of them. Her doctors are trying something a little different this time, hence the four week break before starting over. She knows that the cancer is growing within her during this break.
And this incredibly brave woman will start chemo again. She’s been doing this for four years. Can you imagine?
Knowing her faith, I asked her. Knowing how I feel, as a mother, I asked her.
“If you didn’t have a daughter, would you still be fighting this?”
Very quickly, she told me no. She would have gone Home a long time ago. “This world is only temporary; I know where I will go for eternity”.
She is still here because of her love for her daughter.
So she goes to chemo. She fixes dinner, and feels guilty about sometimes using the TV as a babysitter. She takes her to dance, and to the park. And feels that she still is not doing all she can for her. She is staying alive for her. She is so very aware of the precious nature of time; she is fighting every day to make the most of every minute.
And I continue to throw away and waste so much of the time I have. Honestly, it makes me ashamed.