Thursday, January 21, 2010
Starting with Goodbye: My Perspective Part 2
When I found out Serenity had cancer, I wasn't sure I would become friends with her. I hadn't ever befriended an elderly person, someone who was going to move, or someone terminally ill. I knew I'd be near her a lot due to playgroups and Mom's Night's, but I figured I'd just not get too close; no need to get close if it's just going to hurt in the end. I kind of held back, from almost everyone, the first 2 years we lived in Irmo because I knew we'd be moving to Charleston. Alas, her beautiful spirit won me over, though she wasn't even trying. I remember the moment I decided to be her friend. She hadn't done or said anything extraordinary. We were standing outside, perhaps at a park. Suddenly, I just knew I wasn't going to run from the opportunity to know her, no matter how it ended. I conciously decided to be her friend and allow that friendship to grow into whatever it may. Being me, I decided to tell her of my newly discovered decision. I explained to her my internal conflict, of being drawn to her friendliness, knowledge, calm, and inner-beauty, but being terrified of letting myself get close. Being Serenity, she gently laughed and promised me she didn't plan on going anywhere anytime soon. That became her line to me whenever I would check in about how her treatments were going, or how she was feeling: "I don't plan on going anywhere, anytime soon." It was never meant as a promise, but even so those words weren't empty either. She really didn't plan to go anytime soon. I met her in 2004 and watched her leave this world on January 16, 2010. In those six years, I was priveleged to be a part of her life. I learned what she had to teach, I listened to what she had to say, even when she was so tired from chemotherapy that I had to strain to hear the words. I disagreed with her, I argued with her, I treated her as I would any other person, most of the time completely forgetting she was living with cancer. And I loved her. The first time I brought food for her family, after a particularly harrowing chemo treatment, I left her home shaking; it REALLY hit home how sick she was that night. I went out to Mom's Night and cried to my friends, friends who'd been with her since before her diagnosis, friends who knew already how sick she really was. They informed me that though she did look frightening that night, it was by far not the worst she'd been. And so the roller coaster began for me, just two years after it had begun for Serenity, her family, and the rest of the families in our group, and many outside too. I never counted how many times the "cancer came back" or how many times she "beat it!" I just made sure to be there for her however I could, bringing my kids to play with her daughter, Trinity, or just continuing to go about life as usual, which is what she always wanted us to do, even in her final hours. And I prayed. And I bargained with God, on behalf of Serenity and even more on behalf of Trinity. I begged for Him to teach us all whatever He needed to without putting Serenity and her family, or me through all this. And so, from the beginning of our friendship, I was preparing for our goodbye. I never gave up hope though, I don't think any of us did. Once, in the time I was honored to be a part of the group, we held a healing circle for her. We gathered at Jennifer's house around a fire outside. We each held a rock and handed it to her, while saying aloud our healing, hopeful intentions for her. I can still hear our tear-trembling voices as we each were moved to offer what we could of our own energy and our own prayers to this beautiful woman. Each one expressed herself differently, some crying, and some not. Each admiring Serenity's courage, her grace, her composure throughout the battle with cancer, even in her sickest moments (always direct effects of the chemo, never from the cancer), still wanting to offer something of herself to help others. I didn't offer her any of those things. Instead, I remember challenging her. She and I had talked about the nagging question of why she had cancer. Parts of her believed it was because of some painful things she lived through as a child; she thought if she could just process through some of that, it would help her heal. So I challenged her to find a way to do that. I promised I would help her in any way I could, but begged her to just push through the pain and deal with her demons. She smiled, that same graceful smile she offered everyone, and promised she would do her best, but said that she didn't think she was ready to deal with those things and didn't know if she ever would be. Not in that moment, but later, I remember being so angry, even to the point of blaming her for being sick. I never shared that with anyone, but I felt it. I just couldn't grasp how someone could believe they could get better if only they would work through some things, yet be unable or unwilling to work through it. I have forgiven myself for those feelings and thoughts, and I know if Serenity knew of them, she would forgive me to. It's part of who she is. Continued in the next post...
Posted by Tracee at 1/21/2010 09:02:00 PM