This is a post I wanted to write on Tuesday but some cooties sidelined me and I was only capable of laying on the couch and moan. So here it is, a celebratory letter to my friend.
I clearly remember THAT text. It will forever be etched in my mind and heart. Normally texts are just words, but you know how sometimes you receive a message from a friend and it is filled with emotion? So much so you can almost hear their voice? Well that is what THAT text was for me. More than your voice, I heard fear, relief, agony of spirit, determination – all wrapped up in the words “It’s cancer.” I cried when I read it. Not because I didn’t believe that you were going to survive, but it was because I knew the terribly rough journey you were about to begin.
You weren’t surprised and neither was I. The radiologist couldn’t tell you what she saw but she told you that you needed to be prepared for bad news. And then it was the weekend. Remember how pissed I was? What kind of medical professional left a person hanging like that? And you told me the kind that gave you her cell phone number so that you could call just to talk.
The whirlwind of appointments began with the news. Scans, biopsies, x-rays, consultations and then finally a plan of treatment. Through it all you came to work every day and didn’t dispatch a single student when they were rude and disrespectful to you. I wondered how you did that until I was told that my own time is limited and those same kids have become a connection with normal.
Along came your absolute meltdown in the dentist’s office. Your poor dentist may never be the same!
Summer showed up and it was time for the surgery to put in your port. While it was a bit surprising that you ended up in ICU because of your weird anatomy, on the other hand it really shouldn’t have been that shocking. You are a wonderfully different person.
The days went by and chemo was underway. Jim cut your hair and let me tell you, if he ever gives up working with us, he can pick up those scissors! The second text I will remember is, “My hair is falling out.” Just like that. Cancer takes so much doesn’t it?
The summer rolled on and I think God sent the record rainfalls in order to keep you indoors and resting! Otherwise you would have been working in the garden or on some other outdoor craft project. You can’t even argue with me. We only have to re-visit you being so tired trying to do something outside that you just sat down in the driveway!
School started again and there you were rockin’ the doo-rags! I tried to help and offered many times to draw eyebrows on you with a Sharpie. I still can’t believe you didn’t take me up on it!
As the chemo took its toll on your feet and hands you limped around the school. Thankfully we don’t have runners! Who can forget the story of your toenail falling off? I still say you should have saved it – it would have been an awesome prank!
Chemo was done and then came surgery. I need to set the record straight that they did not put you on the pediatric ward, which is locked, because I was threatening to come and draw those eyebrows on you while you were still drugged! There was no room in the big people rooms so you got put into the monkey room. After you healed a bit from surgery the radiation treatments began. Ugh.
I don’t think we will ever forget that school assembly. As soon as you found out I was willing to shave my head if I was the female staff member with the most donations in my jar, suddenly you became the fundraising queen. I don’t think it was fair however to threaten to write kids up if they contributed to any other staff’s jar except for mine.
I was happy to get shaved because it made you happy and being bald has me saving a buttload of money on shampoo! Our students did such an incredible job and it was an amazing afternoon!!
Now my friend, you are finished. You crossed that finish line. I know you are hurting from those stupid radiation burns but heal from those and that’s it. It’s over!! You did it!! I am so proud of you!!
P.S. I may need a lung.