My journey through (and beyond) the valley with Cancer as my companion.
When you are somehow on this particular journey, whether for yourself or for another, you will from time to time notice shadows ebbing and flowing on your path. These shadows may be from flora or fauna around you, shielding you from the bright and relentless sunlight. These may be a welcome moment on your way, inviting you into the cool shade. Of course, for those of us who are on our own journey, we can also find shadows to be discomforting reminders of what lies ahead; more of a darkness that we instinctively react to in negative ways. For some, we even condition ourselves to reflexively "flinch" like some automatic and involuntary reaction at such times. We train and condition ourselves for such times as self defense against some negative moment or outcome.
It can happen when we must go to the doctor, or for therapy, or to an Attorney, or even to others on the journey with us. It can become routine, and natural to pre-emptively respond to what we perceive as danger, sadness, or difficulty. Because it is we who must face such moments, one of the things we will usually do is to do what we can to protect others who are with us on this journey. I cannot say it is a natural thing to do; it is only what we can do. This is important for lots of reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that we are facing uninvited betrayal to our existence by the betrayal of our body. There is just so much we cannot do, or can no longer do. We work very hard to keep that growing list as small as possible from not only selfish motivations, but from selfless motivations as well. Shadows, darkness...differences with distinctions that can become blurred as we proceed.
Sometimes, however, shadows can be comforting. I'd like to tell you about one such shadow in particular. This shadow is very special to me, and my journey.
Perhaps a small bit of background will help explain things.
This particular story begins in 1971, in my hometown of Hazard, Kentucky.
I had returned there after the sudden death of my Mother to live in my Father's home. I was a High School Freshman, and looking forward to getting reacquainted with childhood friends. One calm, beautiful day, waiting on the school steps...I saw her. I casually looked over at a friend, and told him "See that girl over there? I might just marry her."
We did, in fact have a wonderful relationship of dating, and being an item that lasted some four years. Life took us in separate directions. We had separate lives for some 40 years. Then an incidental email brought us together again. I had just moved from a shelter into public housing--not exactly how I would have predicted I would be living by that point. After emails, and phone calls, she and her husband came to visit. She would visit about every other week, traveling five hours plus each way for the better part of a year. We would discuss current and immediate future schedules (mostly mine, and mostly medical) and then fill in the remainder with activities like shopping, movies, eating out and visiting new place...in a word: life.
It got kind of ridiculous, and outrageously expensive for her to continue the round trips. I had made a few with her, visiting her home and her new town. I met her son, his wife, and eventually her new grandson. New life. I made friends with some of her friends, and saw the life she had been living prior to us connecting again. She was a nurse (RN) and administrator of a free clinic serving the medical needs of people in a nine county area with volunteer doctors, nurses, techs and other volunteer staff that made this operation run. To a person, they were all totally in love with her. She had, it seemed, turned out well.
I would eventually cave to her group request, and leave the security of medical insurance and housing and move to her town, to live in a home she and her husband own. I live there still. Her efforts gained me medical security, medical insurance, and a (positive) determination for Social Security Disability. Medically, I was in fairly rotten shape, and completely useless in any other consideration. I was out of gas. I was out of fight.
Since the first time we communicated again after so long, she has been my shadow on this journey. It has not been easy on, or for her. Most (but, being fair, not all) of that is my fault. Shadows are difficult sometimes to trust when they first appear. Then, darkness comes and the very last thing anyone on this journey wishes is for an innocent traveler to be harmed because of them. Knowing the difference between shadow and darkness is not only very important, but at times very difficult. I was, and still am very, very inept in that regard.
To list the things that Sara has done for me would fill all available space in this journal, and still be quite incomplete. Add to that her husband, her son, her community and you have a minimum of a 12 volume series. I'm not up to that at the moment. But so would the list of reasons I am so very blessed, humbled and grateful for her persistent dedication to my care and my person that she has, without exception, exemption, or dispensation provided for and to me. Sara is my one true friend in all the world. She is the only shadow I look forward to every moment of my life. "No greater love is this, but that a person lay down (put aside, suspend, voluntarily give up) their life for a friend."
There is for me a living example of this truth. In every way, every day, Sara considers me and my health (and happiness) first. It is easy to say that I love her, and have no doubt, I DO love her. I love her husband, and her son, and her friends, and her community. She was my first true love. That didn't work out. She is my one true friend, and I love her as my one true friend. I adore her shadow upon me. She gives me joy, and hope, and possibility for life. Every day. She counts my meds, accompanies me to medical appointments, procedures and hospitalizations. She sleeps in my hospital room and is with me every second I am hospitalized. Because of this amazing woman, there are times when I am alone, but there is NEVER a time when I am lonely.
She is the bravest person I have ever met. She is sharp, truthful, and speaks frankly with me and others. She is my healthcare advocate legally. She has my power of attorney absolutely. She is my companion on this journey, and bravely faces (or at least attempts to) every single step of the way on this journey.
I am very, very lucky to have Sara as the center of my world. I know this. Which is my point to you today.
Sometimes the shadows are more than we first think of them. It is my hope that you have such shadows along the way on your journey as well. If you do not, please make yourself more sensitive to those, and those things like shadows around you--whether you are on this journey or not. Sometimes, things happen at the speed of life. Other times, things happen because of a loving Heavenly Father ("Dad") who sends to you someone who can fill your heart, your mind and your soul with the one indispensable necessity on this journey, and on the journey of life itself: Hope.
He is my Dad in the daytime. He is also my Dad when the shadows of day lengthen to night, and to the darkness. When I hear, or see Sara, I see Him.
Thank you Sara. Thank you Dad. I love you, too.
Your Forever Friend,
PS: Because it is her favorite color, that's why!