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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Live Like You Are Dying.

Today was a rough day. I have had a few rough days, but, today  was rougher than most.

Many years ago, in a state far, far, away, I had 5 women that were very close to me and to each other. Betty was one of them, and so was Holly. Today I found out that the second of those women has died from cancer.

The first one, Betty, I took care of her in her home, until it was time for her to enter a hospice.

Betty was a character to say the least. but when I ran into her after not seeing her for a few years, it was obvious that she was not doing well. She had breast cancer that spread all through her body. Although it was a non-smoking building, residents would go outside to smoke. Betty was so weak that she would sneak smokes in her apartment. I got some food into her after three days. She hadn't been able to eat for months. A day after that, i cooked a rib eye steak. i had to caution her to slow down since she hadn't eaten in so long. From then on, Betty was constantly eating.

I had a little car. I would put Betty in my car and we would go and get a McDonald's for her. Heaven help us all if they didn't put enough dill pickles on it.

I took Betty to her first pow wow. she loved it. She lived those last six months. In spite of the many nights we would end up in the emergency room with shot after shot of dilaudid. Betty's cancer had gotten into her spine.

Betty was very much a smoker. the doctors would try to get her to quit. Betty was dying of cancer and we would laugh at the doctors saying "Or What? I'll get cancer and die!? Oh yeah, I have cancer and I'm dying." Laughter was our way of snatching moments of sanity and reality away from that artificial world of medical management.

Betty died as she lived, full of both faith and spunk.

I think the best gift I gave my friend was my time. We were also able to talk about dying. Most people are afraid to talk about it.

But Betty and I both remembered when they told me I had lung cancer and that the odds of dying were 97% from 6 months to five years. I was lucky. Either it was a mistake, or I got my own little miracle. Every day since then has been a gift. Betty died in January. An ex of mine died from alcoholism in February, less than a month before I was going to take him to see his daughters. Today I found out Holly had died and was buried. My eyes are burning from tears and my throat is sore. I know it was a relief for Holly, those last few months were rough. I miss her. I am trying to be glad for her, her pain and struggles are over. In January we had our last long conversation. We got to say everything we needed to say to each other. I said one thing to her that I will always remember-- "I knew you before you had a halo."

I have Multiple Sclerosis. Often people will act as if I am a saint and so very brave. But, everyone lives with something. I am luckier than a few of my friends.

I remember Holly saying to me in a small tired voice "trade you."

Running through my head right now are some of the lyrics of a song "..live like you were dying.."
That is how I have to live my life. At one time, I was told I faced a certain death. I am not dying of cancer and every day, I live, I live, I live.