An old friend sent me a note last week, telling me that another old friend had died after a two year struggle with cancer. It was sad, in the way that hearing morbid news about someone you once knew is - oh, that is awful. Followed by a quick prayer for her children, and a fleeting thought of thanks for my own good fortune.
Along with the note came a link to a Caring Bridge journal, it's worth the read, my friend said.
When the link opened, I was surprised to see the girl I knew, disguised as a woman. Under the long hair and mature face, I could still see the very awkward twelve year old girl she'd been.
We were good enough friends in school. Occasionally, we'd go to each others' house, or chat in school. But mostly, she was a little bit of a know it all and separated herself from the rest of us. Because she truly was so much brighter than us all; her brain outstripping her body, and everyone around her. Looking back, I think it must have been lonely, having to sit there and listen to us natter on about leg warmers and armpit hair, when her mind was lightyears away.
I half expected the Caring Bridge journal to be written in that same matter of fact way she spoke as a child. And indeed, the first paragraph of every entry is a straightforward, clinical description of her medical condition. Then her voice abruptly changes, and she talks for several paragraphs about mundane things. About the animals she sees out her window, about her childrens' school and sports, about visits with family and friends. It's as if she's saying 'yes, yes, all this is wrong. But the rest of it, that is my life.'
I'm certain it was by design. I finished each entry thinking about what a wonderful life she had, how loved she was. She wrote with such clarity, and, without being overly sentimental, was so grateful. What a comfort her words will be to her children, to see that everyday their mother's primary focus, her great joy, was in the love she felt for them.
How many times must she have said to herself, I am 39 years old. I have three children and a husband who loves me. Every day I have with them is a gift.
I could say those very words, but I have the leisure of good health, the complacency of good fortune.
She was always smarter than me.
2 weeks ago