About the time I became a homeowner, one of my Yahzee friends found out why she has been feeling lousy for seven months. Despite repeated vists to a half-dozen specialists and her general practitioner, it was only when her oxygen level was below 90 at the arthritis doctor appointment that she was finally sent to the hospital. She was diagnosed with Stage 2 lung cancer.
Because she is already so fragile from a variety of maladies related to her diabetes, surgery was not an option. Chemo and radiation was, to my surprise. Always an optimist, she opted to try to shrink the tumor(s) in an attempt to have more time, better time. The opposite has happened.
Most of the last six weeks she has been in the hospital, now a transitional one. She is very weak. Yesterday, I was in tears when I left. She could hardly speak; she dozed a lot. Over the weeks, we have talked about things we have scarcely touched on in the years I have known her.
She is a strong woman, and an honest one.
"I smoked for 50 years," she told me bluntly. "My mother died of lung cancer. I brought this on myself."
And yes, I am still smoking. It seems more and more stupid. For me, it has been 30 years.
Her friends, her family, have to say goodbye to her, but she has to say goodbye to all of us. That's a lot of goodbyes. A lot of grief. Her two youngest granddaughters are only 2 and 3. She realizes they will not remember her--and she had looked forward so to seeing all her grandchildren grow some more. She has always looked forward to what comes next, part of her charm.
She believes strongly in God. I know I hear a lot of you puzzle out why that would matter, but to those of us who do, it's a source of strength, of not being all alone, because we can feel the spiritual tie. In her way, she's still looking forward.
The thing is, I've written about a lot of happy in the last few months, while this has been going on at the same time. The happy belonged of a piece. So does this. She is still my friend. She has added to the goodness of my life, and I thank her for that, still. Always. The happy goes on.
Any minute now, my youngest granddaughter will be over to spend the day. Oldest is at a sleepover. We went to the library again yesterday, because, as active as they are, these girls love to read. We got a couple of movies, too. There might be a sno cone later, but we also have root beer and ice cream on hand. I will reheat the spaghetti and meatballs I made for lunch yesterday.
Tomorrow I will visit my friend again. She may be weaker still, she may be a bit better. My sadness is a ribbon through the sweetness of everyday.
This is the point: Life is good. Finally, I have learned that. Life is good.