It has been a very full and positive weekend. I got out and did several things that were way out of the norm for me since last August.
I actually hired a man to take care of a repair job on the ceiling at church. I spent the day working on a grief-related memorial project for someone else; I went to see my two granddaughters that live about 100 miles from us, stayed over-night and got in two good days visits with them and also a good visit with their mother my ex-daughter in law. I got to visit and have lunch with my cousin that I dearly love but haven’t seen in a long time; I got to test my theory about whether I would actually step up and say something of comfort to someone in an uncomfortable situation of loss – cancer in this case. And...I met with Kara’s mom for the first time since last August.
The Memorial Project - I spent five hours editing photographs and putting together a photo book of memories of my friend’s brother that passed away suddenly just last month. He wanted to do it as a memorial gift to his family but did not know how. I got it to the draft stage. He was very happy with it and it was a creative release for me and it felt really good doing something positive and comforting for someone else. And I think it turned out beautifully.
The meeting with Kara’s mom - This was a long-time coming and it was not without mixed emotions on both of us. It was so good to finally get to see her and talk to her face to face but I have to admit I was terrified thinking about how emotional it would be; fearful of how she would react to us; and wondering if we would be able to talk --really talk –about all of this at all.
She and I both were hesitant and a little fearful of whether it would be good or extremely uncomfortable. I don’t think I could have custom-designed it to go any better than it did. It was a tangle of emotions; a little sad and emotional at first, a little bitter-sweet yet extremely comforting though I can’t explain why and such an emotional relief to finally get to be with her. We met for dinner and stayed and talked four hours! It was, to me, one of the most gracious acts of love and kindness I’ve ever personally been a part of.
The visit with my granddaughters and daughter in law - My granddaughters are both grown and on their own. Have their own homes and one is married so we don’t see them as much anymore and in most cases there would be no reason to ever see my ex-daughter in law again…Except that I will always love her. I appreciate the fact that she always allowed me to be a part of their lives and I have the other side of that coin and know better than most how much that means. It was really good to spend quality time with all of them. We had individual time with each of the girls in their homes; shared a meal with both and also had time with them together as a family. We laughed and reminisced and talked until we were falling asleep. It was a great weekend.
Then at the hotel where we were staying the next morning when we went to check out I noticed the clerk was wearing a scarf on her head and I heard her mention a rash she had that she thought was caused by the chemo. My first and most natural response “before” would have been to pretend that I did not notice the scarf or hear her refer to “chemo” since she was not talking to me and just quickly turn in my keys and leave. But I remembered my own sister and all of those other people in the clinic. I remembered how isolated and alone cancer can feel because it makes everyone uncomfortable. I remembered how I felt in my isolation and how my friends “discomfort” with “this” hurt me and made me feel so alone and abandoned. And while I said I would never again walk away – I wondered how I would really do when put to the test. Well, I didn’t just do what I probably would have done before. I actually stopped acknowledged her and told her I overheard her mention chemo and told her how sorry I was to hear about her illness. I told her about my sister and that I understood a little of what she was going through. And she was clearly thankful to have me acknowledge her. It was like a dam had burst. She started talking non-stop like she was so “full” and I know personally, that she probably was. We both teared up and I just let her talk. I asked about her doctors and her treatment plan and if she had a good support system. And she talked on and on. And then as confirmation, she actually said, “It’s weird. Like some people have a hard time relating to me anymore because of the cancer. It’s like they don’t know what to say or how to treat me anymore. I guess because of your sister you seem so open like you understand.” I just said, “Yes, that must be it.” I wished her well, told her I would be praying for her and left.It was not hard. It didn’t take that much time. And it literally made my day!