Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My middle daughter at Christmas, seven years ago.  I can't believe it's seven years ago already.  My family was still together.  I miss that this year.  My family broken up and spread out.  I'm not sorry I left my husband and my children would have left home anyway but still there is a sorrow attached to my nostalgia.  Maybe because I didn't know then.  Katie still lived at home.  I tucked her in every night;  I knew she was safe.  Of course it wasn't real.  My husband and I were unhappy.  My son was dealing drugs.  I could hardly manage to care for Katie anymore.  But my friend wasn't dying of cancer seven years ago either.

I ran into my girlfriend at work this morning.  She was coming in for a CT scan.  We sat and talked.  She got more bad news last week.  The cancer has continued to spread, now invading her hip bones as well.  She's on morphine every four hours to keep her comfortable.  It will be her last Christmas ever.  She and I both lost it in the front lobby and sat and cried, holding each other.  Not sure what my other patients must think but I don't really care.  I started her IV, took her papers into the CT area and burst into tears again. 

I decided to take a sick day but I waited until my friend was done her scan and I walked her to the front lobby to meet her husband.  We talked again about suffering, counselling, children and cancer.  There is so much suffering where I work and not just from cancer.  One patient has a wife with MS and he wants to find her a place to live before he dies;  they're in their thirties.  Another patient who is dying from his cancer just lost his wife to cancer last month;  she was my patient as well, as is her twin sister.  Everybody has their story and I know it's not new but today what the Buddha said hit home, human beings suffer. 

So I went to the mall because I don't want to suffer.  I bought a few tops for Katie's roommate for Christmas.  I felt better for a moment.  I looked around at all the clothes, all the decorations, all the stuff in the mall and it didn't make me feel better.  What did make me feel a little better is the understanding that I am sad and grieving because I am losing someone I love.  And yet, this is life.  Everything passes.  Nothing is permanent.  It's okay for me to feel sad and grieve my loss, even while she is still alive, but the grief will pass as well.  And that helps.


  1. You are wise in the midst of your suffering and incipient loss. And that photo of your daughter is so full of radiance and joy.

  2. Of course it's okay to grieve. Christmas doesn't erase the sorrows and often makes them that much more poignant.

  3. it's so clear how much you love your friend, deb. that you are willing to walk the path with her means and says everything. you're both lucky to have each other. i'm so sorry and sad that you both have to face her cancer.