I have been busier than usual for the past five weeks. Because of this I haven’t had the time or energy to post as often as I would like. My dear friend is dying from cancer. I will be sharing Pam’s story with you in the future because there is so much we can all learn from it. Long story short, she was diagnosed and told that she had 6 months to a year to live. That was almost 4 years ago. A month ago she took a turn for the worse and her family was told that she would die within 7 days. Well, my friend is still with us, and has more lucid moments than we could have ever imagined. I have been blessed that my psoriatic arthritis had gone into remission the same week it appeared my friend would leave us. Since that week, I have been spending 3-4 afternoons a week with her as she is doing hospice at home.
The first week was brutal. She wasn’t able to communicate verbally and was very weak. The hardest part for me, that is physically, was that she didn’t want to sit or stay in bed. My friend wanted to walk, stand, and walk some more. As someone who can barely handle short periods of walking herself, I didn’t know how I could continue to help her and her husband without injuring myself. Instead of giving up, I found other friends who were willing to join me with the understanding that I would need them to help with most of the walking.
Two weeks later and to everyone’s surprise (her doctors included), my friend became lucid again!! Not only that but she was also able to hold conversations!!! Because of this she became content with sitting with me instead of walking and standing and I felt safe to join my husband for five days in San Francisco!! Since then I have been able to continue my visits whether or not someone else wants to accompany me. I love our time together. Our bond has grown deeper and we enjoy making each other laugh.
My friend is a miracle. During those first two weeks she had to have water sponged into her mouth. Now she can hold a cup and drink on her own. Sadly she has suffered some memory loss and struggles with words and things that we take for granted, like writing our own names on a piece of paper. At this point even her doctors are in agreement that prayers and the grace of God is the only explanation for how she has improved.
Although there has been improvement, there are signs that her battle with cancer is drawing near an end. My heart aches when she cries from the pain that is deep inside her. Some days we lie in her bed and watch television. Other days we talk each other’s ears off. Some days are spent crying and praying together. I know that I can’t stop the inevitable, nor can I take her pain, but I can love her, hold her, and make her laugh. I thank God for every moment I get to share with her.
When this began I shared with her husband that it was a good thing that this didn’t happen a week or two earlier as I wasn’t able to leave my own bed during that time. I explained my conditions and that I am fortunate that the worst of them all was in remission making it possible to come over as often as I have been. I also explained that I never know how long my remission will last and that at any moment I could find myself confined back to my bed and wheelchair. Normally this would cause me to not commit to anything long term, but for some reason I feel safe committing to spending time with my friend and will continue until I am no longer able to.
I don’t know how long my friend will be around. I don’t know how much longer my body will hold out. My friend and I are taking life day by day. We cherish the good moments and try hard to patiently ride out the rough ones. Each visit reminds me of my goal; to put a smile on someone’s face every day.
My sweet friend’s battle with cancer ended the day after Thanksgiving. While my heart aches it is also comforted knowing that she is no longer in pain and passed while at home surrounded by her family. I saw her for the last time earlier that day. While there another friend of hers and I discussed what a blessing the past weeks had been. I would have never met some of the people that I had, nor formed those new friendships. Because of Pam, new friendships were made and existing friendships were strengthened. I am beyond thankful that my body cooperated and allowed me to spend so much time with her during her final weeks. What I didn’t realize is that most of that time I was just running on adrenaline. I could feel my body wearing out a week before she passed, but I kept pushing. Since her passing, my body has demanded that I rest. Tomorrow I will be attending her memorial. I will celebrate the life she led and the beautiful person that touched the lives of so many. There will be tears. Some tears will be because I miss her, but most will be happy tears remembering all the times we made each other laugh. Goodbye dear friend, you fought a good fight and beat so many odds, I may not be able to hold your hand anymore, but you will always live on in my heart.
May your days be filled with smiles and laughter,