My friend Lisa got some terrible news last week. Her only sibling, Mari, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung/lymph/lymphoma cancer. I have never met Lisa face to face, the connection was through a mutual friend and a blog. Still, she is my friend.
Lisa lives somewhere in the south where it is humid and hot and she struggles with health issues on a daily basis, but you would never know it from her wise and charming blog which is called “Cheap Therapy”.
Lisa chooses a word that is the theme for each year, love that, and this year it was “Experiment”. I love that we are invited to add our experiences too. Lisa turns her blog into a place for all of us to have a voice, we are the Lisa community for lack of a better descriptor.
This week was different. She asked us in the Lisa blogosphere how we coped when we were hit with devastating news about people we love. I had to think about it for a few days. I really did.
I think I know how I cope. I am a doer, a maker, a changer. Last year a dear friend was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was a rider and is a bon vivant and has the best laugh ever. I felt helpless to help. I didn’t know what I could do? How do you offer you love and support to a friend when you are unsure of what is appropriate?
What I am sure of is that I need to do something in these situations. I’m a maker, an artist, a craftsperson, a cook, a gardener. I do things with my hands. That is how I express my love and care for others. I didn’t know exactly what to do but I wanted to let R. know how much I cared while she was alive. What good are flowers if you can’t smell them or see them? I made her a painting of her beloved horse, her dog and details from her life. I framed it and gave it to her. It made us both very happy, that was a year ago and she continues to fight the good fight agains the enemy, cancer.
The person I lost that was the most devastating was Danny. My first real love and the father of my three big Snow boys. They are all grown up now with children of their own. The family baby is already in his 30’s. Dan and I loved each other a lot; hell we got married twice, and it still didn’t work out. It is true, you can love someone and not be able to be married to them. I’m living proof kids.
Several years ago Dan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and he beat it. Sadly, it recurred and this time we were going to lose him. When the boys told me their dad’s cancer was back, I sat down and cried my eyes out.
I am a doer, a maker. I thought about it, and then I asked Dan and his wife Dorothy if he felt like coming to the best dinner party of all time. He did. I called all of our friends from the halycon days of our lives. The times of the brightest future and the best memories. Back then the kids were little and the wonder of our lives was still ahead of us. Evereyone came, Some even flew in from other states and brought memories and pictures to dinner.
When we were in our 20’s and 30’s and just starting out, one of the things we did most with friends was to cook and eat together. I remember those meals today in a haze of golden happiness. I know it wasn’t always a summer evening and the candles weren’t always lit, but that’s how I remember them.
Dan’s dinner was the best one of all. Sherry flew in from Oklahoma to be my sous chef again, and we cooked all day. We had fantastic wine and a bottle of Dan’s favorite scotch. We jammed all 8 of us around my table in my tiny house and we laughed and we ate and we told stories and we remembered. After dessert, Dan was getting tired and it was time for him to leave. We all hugged him hard and said good night and he and his wife left. Most of us never saw him again.
We sat in the living room and we broke down and sobbed. Not a tear was shed while he was there, that time was for memory and happiness, but the sadness hit us when he left. Dan died at home a few months later with his boys and his wife with him.
The funniest thing happened after he passed away. I could see the young Dan clearly again, so many memories came back. Memories DO come back you thought you’d lost.It’s like a secret gift you don’t get to unwrap until you get through losing someone you love. I love this poem, it sums it all up for me:
It is not the ones who throw roses on your grave who realize your life didn’t die…it is the ones you rode the roller coaster with, who you made love with, it’s the children who learned from you to laugh exactly the way you do..they are where your life went. Norman Laliberte, The Magic Box
So, my friend Lisa, I know you have a journey ahead of you someplace you never thought you would go. Take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. All I can say from where I am standing is make memories, share joy: MAKE AND DO. Ask Mari what she wants to do that she has not done and do that with her, have an adventure! Save sad for later, right now, this minute find the immense distilled sweetness in every minute you have together.
I wish you both love, strength and so much joy together.
(note: these are my photographs, I’m addicted to changing them into affirmations, I hope you enjoyed them too. rox)