Last night my 10 year old daughter and I took a small road trip to comfort our two of our best friends as they celebrated the life of a beautiful young woman who lost her battle with Leukemia. As we made our way I lost myself in thought…reliving the end of a life to this treacherous monster was more emotional than I anticipated. Two and a half years ago we said good-bye to my father-in-law who fought the same fight. Hearing about this young lady’s diagnosis, treatment, isolation…it was all too familiar. I let myself go back to the age-old question –
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
This beautiful woman was a cheerleader, a prom date, a best friend, a wife and most importantly a mommy to two boys under the age of five. She was diagnosed with Leukemia 18 months ago while in the hospital, giving birth to her second child. How quickly one of the most beautiful experiences in life can become the scariest. My father-in-law choked on his dinner in a restaurant one night and was taken to the hospital where they ran a normal battery of tests, only to discover that HE had developed Leukemia. This man was essentially a saint…never smoked, drank, abused anyone or anything. He was a loving son, devoted husband and doting father and “papaw” to my children. Why was he being deprived of the many years he still had left to live? There were no choices that either of them could have made differently in life that would have resulted otherwise. It’s not fair. I realize that I’m being human and selfish in saying so…the reality is that God has a plan and we are all better for having been a part of their lives, despite the brevity.
If I can look beyond the sadness of losing the physical existence of such wonderful people, I see the legacy that is left behind. The impact that we have on this earth is never more evident than when celebrating the end of one’s life. Last night as we entered the town square, I very quickly found our destination as I saw the line of family and friends literally a city block long eagerly awaiting entrance to the church and their moment to hug her mom, dad, husband, brothers…and share with them what their daughter/wife/sister meant to each of them. I fortunately made my way through the side door with the family and sat as witness to this line of people slowly getting their opportunity to say good-bye. The two hours that each of these people waited just to do so spoke volumes about this angel.
Though I don’t find it particularly enjoyable to see such sadness in the faces of those who miss her dearly, I do attempt try to see the good in any given situation. This woman was loved greatly…she was a good person…she lived her life to the fullest and left this earthly existence having taken advantage of every last moment she had. While last night I can say that I truly enjoyed the company of our best friends and am happy to be a support whenever I can, I also walked away with the ever-so-important reminder that today is no guarantee of a tomorrow. Am I doing everything I can to live MY life to the fullest? Am I hugging and kissing my babies often enough? Am I giving my time and resources enough? Do I give a shoulder and open ear enough? No need to ponder…I know I am not. That is human nature. We all get comfortable and take life for granted…in some ways that’s a good thing. We can’t always sit on pins and needles waiting for the day that it’s all over. But we DO need the reminder from time to time to raise bar, kick it up a notch, do more, be more. I’m thankful I got that reminder last night. Today, for certain, I’m going to hug my babies until they yell at me to let go.