…what do you do?
A friend of mine is dying. She has, the doctors say, five months, which in layman terms means we probably won’t see her through Christmas. And she has a daughter the same age as my own youngest daughter. A child who will be left as an orphan, since her own father committed suicide when she was much younger.
The term orphan brings up images of Oliver Twist, or Annie, but life is rarely a musical and Daddy Warbucks only exists in the cartoons. Of course there are family and friends that will take her in. But she will always be missing something, a part of her that should never be taken. A mother.
I wonder strange things tonight after hearing this news. I mean, we knew it was coming, but still… this is pretty final. The tumors have doubled. No more chemo. Quality over quantity.
What, I thought, would happen to her cell phone number? I texted her tonight just to say, “hey, we love you,” and then I thought, when she is gone, where will that text go? Some other random person in this state will be assigned that number, and that “hey, we love you,” will mean absolutely nothing to them. They might even think they have a stalker. They won’t understand that this modern-technology, cell phones and texting, has connected me with someone else in a way nothing else could. We live miles apart, but I knew in seconds how she was feeling.
Of course, I knew before, because I have often wondered how my own children would feel should they lose their mother. It’s one reason I don’t understand suicide. How do you DO that to your family and children? How do you leave them wondering if they could have done something, or if it was their fault?
Cancer is a final and thorough demon. It usually finishes what it starts. We hear success stories now and then. More often, we read obituaries.
I suppose, in a way, I can understand why so many around me cling to their Mormon faith, because it offers answers for the questions. Answers for “what happens after?” Perhaps I am too much of a cynic, because I don’t believe that wearing special underwear, or paying your money to a church, or faithfully attending a service is going to make you SAFE and keep you away from that UNKNOWN.
Your money would be better spent for research to find a cure, or put out to comfort children and families who are dealing with the demon monster, the big C.
When my oldest daughter was six, she became very ill and I took her to her primary care physician. I’ve always trusted this doctor, so when she said to me, “I don’t know, Natalie, I don’t feel good about this, and I think you should take her to the hospital,” I did.
I took her to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where another doctor confirmed she had meningitis. The problem was, they did not know if it was the deadly bacterial meningitis or the viral kind, which is miserable but most survive. They did a spinal tap. It was inconclusive. They hospitalized her overnight, on antibiotics, and I spent the night on a hard, lonely, cot/bed, listening to the poor girl in the next room throw up and cry all night long. I asked the nurse, and she said one word. “Chemo.”
My daughter recovered, fortunate to have the viral and not bacterial meningitis, but about three weeks later I saw the obituary of the 12-year-old girl in the room next to us.
Did her parents wonder what they did wrong, what they could have done differently, to save her?
Did they wonder why this God so many pray to is so brutal and unforgiving, saving some, and passing others over without a glance?
I’m not an atheist. At best I am agnostic. I am well aware I don’t have all the answers, and will undoubtedly keep asking the questions for as long as I am able.
But I wonder…. When I text my friend’s number in a few months or so, who will answer? Will it be her? Or will my message be received with confusion and fear? With anger? They won’t know the story. They won’t care.
But I do. I always will.