I met her about 18 months ago. She came to a neighbor's house to teach our preschool children Spanish. I never spent time chatting with her; I just observed the lesson and then always had to jet off to get my other son from school. She is definitely gifted. The lessons were always engaging and she had a gentle, calm, spirit that kept the children's attention.
When she told us, it literally took my breathe away. She needed to take the summer "off" to focus on her health. Pancreatic cancer. I can still remember the look on her face. That can't be, I thought. She couldn't be more than 30 years old and she has two young kids. It just can't be. But it was.
Pancreatic cancer has no cure. They gave her three months. I wanted to help, but I was paralyzed. Of course, I prayed but it didn't seem enough. I wanted to call her, but I didn't want to be intrusive. After all, I didn't really know her. So, my son and I wrote her. He drew her a picture and I wrote his get well message. I offered "help in any way" but I didn't hear from her. I didn't really expect it, after all she knew less of me than I of her. Since I had her address, I thought of sending money, even showing up at her door, but I didn't. Paralyzed.
My neighbor was persistent in calling her until she was able to speak to her. She spoke of trying alternative therapies, her faith, and that in a way she thought of her illness as "a gift" that brought her family closer. Amazing, I thought. I can't imagine getting to that place, thinking of a terminal illness as a gift. I could only discern that it was faith that brought her there.
Life happens and I let her slip from my mind. It's easy to do as who wants to think of something so tragic? Shortly after Kindergarten started this year, I realized that her son was in my son's class. His teacher said that she wasn't well.I spoke with Jack about remembering her. We played the Spanish tape with her voice on it and then took it into school to share with her son and the class. She has already beaten the "odds" but what consolation is that?
Today I learned that Hospice is now involved. The end must be feared near. I cried. For her. For her children. For her husband. I dried my tears. They came back. I projected her situation into my life and cried, again. I'm not sure why I'm so deeply affected. She's not my friend. But she's my contemporary. A young mom of two small boys, making her mark in this world, never imagining she wouldn't live to see her son graduate from high school, much less Kindergarten. I think about all that she will miss, her kids will miss, with her gone. It's tragic, unfair, frightening and deeply saddening. It sucks.
Today, I also learned of a young mom, a stranger to this woman, who apparently just "showed up on her doorstep" to offer her assistance and she took her up on it. She organized a meeting today of those who want to help. Why couldn't I have done that, I thought? In the beginning I did think about it but I was paralyzed. It would have been awkward, for her and me, to just show up. I should have just checked my insecurities. I'm thankful someone else could and has been able to help. You live and you learn.
I can't help but think that it's Divine intervention that has reconnected our families. We were meant to help; in what way, remains to be seen, but my paralyses abated, I'll be ready to move.