I began this piece last fall when Jane was still alive. Sadly, she lost her battle with lung cancer late last spring. She was a non-smoker. The week I returned home after being away for months of treatment, she entered the hospital for the last time. Our pact to heal together crumbled and I mourned a day that will never come.
Last fall, when Jane was beginning her second round of chemotherapy and radiation she wrote, "’I'm trying to soak in what this experience needs to teach me. I’m paying attention."
Powerful words. She was a special person.
Our family has faced it's share of medical challenges. All three of my children were born prematurely, the youngest, weighing just 2.5 pounds. The last six years brought countless medical visits for my daughter and I, several surgeries, the loss of my job due to illness, a quest for our restored health and finally diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease for my daughters and I. We've been through a lot. What have I learned from our own experiences?
1) Never wear a watch. When you are waiting, the time goes by much faster without one.
2) Live in the moment. If your daughter wants to get the Christmas tree lights out in October and turn the dining room into her favorite soup and sandwich hang-out, join her. Just don't tell your friends when it starts to snow. : )
3) Find the gifts and blessings. Today, enjoying the beautiful autumn colors, listening to my daughters sing, reconnecting with friends. Blessings are all around. A phone call from a friend just to say hello. Dark organic chocolate. A smile and hug when your child runs to meet you from the bus. Family.
4) I've learned to trust my instincts more.
5) I've also learned you must be an advocate for yourself.
6) I try to stay level. As one doctor often reminds me, "You're running a marathon."
7 ) Accept help. My sister with breast cancer taught me the importance of this. Likewise, pay it forward.
8) If asked, "How are you doing?" I answer, "We're okay."
9) You can make the world better one smile at a time and always remember, your sense of humor is your best medicine.
10) Peacefully accept what you can accomplish in a day. Rest when you need to heal.
11) The best teachers are lifelong students.
I'm still learning, every day. Thank you, Jane! You were the best of both!