I’ve been worrying about all the wrong things.
Last night, what kept me awake was seemingly important– the dirty dishes in the sink, the weight I want to lose, the fine lines forming around my mouth. Back-to-school haircuts and a plethora of deadlines rounded out the list, along with regrets over trusting someone in a recent relationship with whom my better judgement told me to exercise caution. Damn that better judgement. It’s always right.
When I couldn’t sleep, I checked my email. I opened one from a dear colleague, Tersea, someone I’ve worked with for years. Despite her living in South Africa and me in the States, we’ve become close. In the same way many of you peer over a cubicle wall or a backyard fence at the people you speak most to each day, I connect with Tersea via technology. I talk to her more often than the people living just a few hundred feet from me. We collaborate on everything from how to handle communications regarding a major company acquisition to our latest favorite metaphysical book. We’re tight.
I pictured her smiling face when I opened the email and read:
“The results of my PET scan weren’t good. The cancer has metastasized and spread to my entire liver. They have also discovered a new tumor in my colon. The spread has been so aggressive between the March CT scan and the one done in June, that there are more than 30 tumors in my liver and it’s inoperable . . . So my cancer is incurable.”
To say I gulped is an understatement. And this is not my first rodeo. I helped my mother die. And my father do the same. I tended to the demise of my marriage and the life that died with it. Did I mention my ex had colon cancer that traveled to his liver and is now undergoing chemo? This email hit close to home.
She continued: “I want to use the time ahead to grow spiritually and to share kindness and empathy where I can. I am going to live and love vicariously and make sure that my hubby and kids are left with memories of me smiling and being positive . . . Thank you for being such incredible friends and for supporting me during this journey. We still have lots of good stuff to do . . . ! With lots of love from South Africa.”
All of my usual go-to’s—driving over to see her, bringing the family meals, long walks together where we figure out life and love as we’ve so often done—don’t work in this situation. She is thousands of miles away.
We talked this morning and in usual form, she was insistent we take care of business before the personal stuff. It felt surreal to be discussing video shoots and corporate forecasts. When we had done our due diligence on the tasks at hand, she brought me to tears as she mustered her usual grace and said: “Kristine, I am so honored that you have been a part of my soul group and journey in this lifetime. I know we were meant to connect. What would I have done without your love and support all these years?”
I said nearly the same to her. The woman who can talk about past life regression as easily as she fills you in her latest favorite trash TV show has a special place in my heart. So few people stand out as shining lights to me. There are many I love but only a select few who inspire and “get” me. She is just such a one. I lost another one some eight years ago. Nary a day goes by (truly) where I don’t wish I could pick up the phone and hear Audrey’s sage counsel one more time, make her laugh uproariously into my ear.
Today, I struggle to write. To finish a major speech for a major executive. To write on topics that matter in the day-to-day world but not so much in the big picture of life.
It gives me pause. My soul sisters seem to be bailing from this life left and right.
I do what we all do, what keeps me sane. Today, I will finish that major speech. I will work late to meet other deadlines. I will take my son and his friends to the pool, hoping their laughter will buoy my spirits. I will resolutely put my last relationship out of my mind and move into a future where a good man awaits (Do you hear that, Universe? I am stating it as a definitive occurrence. Take note.). I will do my speed workout, which will kick my butt and leave me lying on the floor, panting. I will cook a healthy dinner, working my way slowly toward that weight loss goal. I will walk the dog, pay some bills and otherwise tread water. And I am sure I will shed tears privately, as I am right now, for another loss in my life I feel unprepared to meet.
And then, hopefully, I will do all the right things in a big way. I will drink wine with friends and belly laugh. I will hug my children and be sure they feel the light and love I wish for them every day. I will pay time and attention to those that merit it and walk calmly and kindly away from those who don’t. I will lie in the bathtub bubbles, thanking God for health and ease—every bit of that extra 20 pounds, because at least it is a healthy 20 pounds.
There are so few ways I can honor her right now that getting on with it—with life—seems the only logical choice to do so. She is what I call a fellow light warrior, bringing a special kind of luminescence to a sometimes dark world. We may not always succeed, but it is not for lack of trying.
You can count on the fact that over the next few months, I will pray on my knees, meditate on my altogether too cushy ass and just love. I will appreciate every ounce of my faulty human beauty and even more so the divine part of me that lacks those same faults.
Tersea will like that.