Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ribbon of Sad in the Mostly Happy

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.

5 comments:

clairz said...

Charlotte, this is a beautiful post. Sadness in the midst of joy = life. It's what we have, what we are given. I am glad to read that you are such a constant friend and that you still can experience the joy of all the small things.

Deb said...

I read this earlier today and waited until I was home to comment. There is so much truth in what you have written, and you have written it so beautifully. The ability to clearly see the best things we have experienced while facing some of the worst is rare, indeed. A good friend is truly a treasure.

Linda in New Mexico said...

I have been reading your blog for awhile and enjoying it very much. Today's post is so poignant and real. You said it so well. Sadness in midst of life that is continuing all around us. How beautifully put. Thanks. You and your friend are truly blessings to each other.

charlotte g said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. They are connections ,and whether I know your face, I value the connection.
I said life is good. I meant it. I believe it. But--and we psych majors know when you say but, you are negating everything you said before.
Yesterday was not a great day. I am an obstreporous person, and I battle it regularly with prayer, meditation, happy activities. Yesterday,things I would ordinarly not say I did. Things that would ordinarily not bother me did.
Towards the end of the day, I realized it was grief, and I called a halt. I had an evening meeting and cancelled it. I settled down with a good book, a glass or two of wine, and a good night's sleep.
Today, I feel like me.
And it has been a most interesting day. With lots of parallels, which I do NOT think are accidental.
The result of this interesting day with parallels which I did nothing to earn is that I now own a beautiful orchid plant. Have made three new friends. And am grieving for one more person who is leaving this life.

PaperPencilArt said...

may your goo memories be in your heart for ever. Stay strong and give her comfort with your visit.