Today. Of all days.

Why not today, she asked? Today is a Tuesday, as good as any other day. The sun is intermittently shining her light through the clouds. It’s just noon. A good time for a change. A good time. For anything, really.

I’ve been adrift. This past week I’ve been kind of lost in a fog. The kind of fog that kicks in when you don’t feel well. I don’t do unwell well. But then, does anyone? My particular unwellness can best be described as a cold, accompanied at times by a hacking cough. The kind of cough that keeps people from getting too close, even though I’ve learned to cough into the crook of an elbow.

People get colds. And coughs. So, why am I writing about this? Maybe it’s because today I am feeling better. I have more compassion. For myself, and for others who are suffering illnesses much greater than a cold. Or a temporary cough. As crummy as I felt those first few days, I knew that it would pass. That whatever I was experiencing would be behind me within a week, or five days.

I just read that a writer, a lovely sounding woman of only 51, had just passed away because of ovarian cancer. I wonder, without really wanting to know, how people with terminal illnesses like cancer or heart disease really cope. How do they keep their head above water? Their smile on?

This question makes me remember my dear friend Liz. Liz struggled for years with a variety of illnesses, most of them related to the Lupus with which she had been diagnosed. Somehow her Lupus became cancer, she had several surgeries and ended up with a colostomy. Still, in spite of it all, Liz never wanted to disappoint. She showed up to meetings, was always happy to have visitors, was kind to her caregivers and kept her game face on.

It was only during my last visit to her home, to that wonderful midwestern village in which we had met and become fast friends, that she allowed me to witness the difficulty she was experiencing. Never one to give into pain, she winced now with almost every movement of her body. Brave to the bitter end, she gave me an hour of her precious time, speaking as sweetly as ever, curious about my life, the adventures I had been having while traveling around the world, remembering good times she and I had shared.

Because of my travels, it took a while — six months or so — for me to learn that Liz had passed away. Was it too late to send a card to her family? Was it too late to send a prayer to the heavens? I sent my own silent prayer, grateful for the friendship we had shared, our many heartfelt and insightful conversations. I felt her in my heart then, and feel her still in my heart today. I guess it’s never too late to remember. Cheerio, old friend.


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