She never stopped smiling

One day closer to the weekend, and none too soon, at that.

I realized it's been exactly two weeks since I last wrote. It's not that I haven't had things on my mind - mostly while walking in the desert, or in the times before I fall asleep - but it's getting those thoughts to form words, and words to form an entry that is the trouble.

She's gone. Renee's sister Michele died yesterday morning. She was surrounded by her family for the last couple of hours. They talked about the best times they had together, and Renee said she started smiling and just never stopped. She was able to say good bye. How the HELL do you say goodbye...

I'm heartbroken for Renee's loss. For Michele's husband's loss, for her kids' loss. For her parents and her friends and everyone whose life she touched. I didn't even know this woman, but I know that cancer took her too soon. It's always too damn soon. I find myself thinking, "at least she wasn't hanging on, in pain" but is that just my way of trying to make sense of the senseless?

How does this happen? It was only about eight weeks since Renee told us about her sister's diagnosis. I have to remember that we don't know how long it was growing inside. We don't know so many factors. All we know is that she's gone.

I have to make a conscious effort not to insert myself into her story, because it's not my story. It's not my outcome. It's not my diagnosis. Yet the nagging voice in my head that I try to stifle is a subtle reminder that the whole situation hits pretty close to home. As much of a realist as I am, I just can't let myself think of a time when I could hear the words, "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do." I like to think that there always HAS to be something, but the truth is, there isn't always something. But that doesn't apply to me right now.

This morning while hiking we saw this older couple that we often pass on the trail. Greg commented to them that they are able to sleep in a little now that it's getting light later. She responded something about being able to adjust to the clock. I smiled, as I love seeing these two in the morning, still hiking, still vibrant. They've got to be in their 70s. And then I got choked up at the reality of the fact that there's a good chance that I may never have the chance to retire. I couldn't let myself stay in that place in my mind very long. The fleeting thought was enough.

I've found myself a bit frustrated at the whole state of some things. Frustrated that nobody can seem to figure out what causes most cancers, or how to cure then. Frustrated that yet another person I work with has been diagnosed, and today went in for her lumpectomy. Frustrated about the fact that Tina is left feeling mutilated and like a freak without hair, eyelashes, a breast - because I know that feeling. Frustrated that Andrea's cancer came back. That Tom was diagnosed with colon cancer. That Renee's sister died. Frustrated sometimes because I have managed to become this shining example of the fact that Stage IV, NED can exist, that people can actually both survive and thrive with metastatic disease...
What happens if one of these PET scans comes back showing a spot? I'll be absolutely crushed. Not only that, but I'll feel like I just stole hope from too many people that were counting on me to shatter the myths.

I suppose I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it.

The thing is? I know in the big picture I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I have a great husband, a nice house, a decent job, friends and family who love me, two pretty cute - albeit ridiculous - dogs, the energy to hike and walk and live. Who really cares about unruly hair, or chemo-stained veins, or nails that need to be covered with polish because they are still kind of ugly, or the fading scars on my abdomen that will mostly likely be permanently slightly mangled up, or the stent from my eye that crawls out my nose, or the fact that I'm just not as young and pretty as I used to be. As much as I hate to admit it, every now and then the trivial many make the slightest bit of difference. Maybe that means I'm human. I guess the good part is that it means I'm still alive.

I still don't get God's plan. I'm starting to believe that I'm not supposed to.

Godspeed, Michele - you'll be in good company up there.


    I don't really have anything to say. Just wanted you to know there's someone other there who is listening and who understands. All the best, always.