It’s never easy when someone you love is sick – real sick. And while not as hard, its a bit more awkward when you are a third party to the moments breaking the heart of someone you love.
My wife and her sister are close and always have been. They are each other’s best friend, always ready to lend a hand and shoulder to cry on. That made it all the more devastating for Nicole when her sister, Laura, was diagnosed with cancer recently.
Laura has always been the stronger of the two. Nothing against Nicole – she is just more sensitive and not as good at handling stress as Laura. Naturally, Laura dealt with her diagnosis with some bravado and verve, while Nicole did the worrying for both of them.
Laura’s cancer had progressed to the point where surgery was required immediately and terms like “unique” and “abnormal” were being tossed around. This only served to worry Nicole more.
My job was to comfort Nicole and assure her that her sister was still young and strong. I countered every doubt that surfaced with unwavering optimism, because that is what Nicole needed.
The doubts and tensions were still there, bubbling beneath the service, but together she and I were able to stay on task and be there for Laura.
Laura’s lowest and most fragile moment came when she was told the surgery that saved her life meant she would never have children. She had been trying, unsuccessfully, for years. Now she would never have the opportunity.
I have no idea how she is coping with that. I can’t even imagine.
She came through the surgery well. The doctors are confident all the microscopic cancer cells have been removed, and she will recover fully.
With the hopeful news, my wife is getting back to her normal, happy self – which makes me happier.
I didn’t do anything but stand in the background. It felt useless, but it was exactly where I needed to be.
The whole situation has me thinking about how it would be if the tables had been turned, or if fate had not been in Laura’s favor.
It reminds me of a song that’s still fairly popular. The 30- or 40-somethings out there will likely remember the band The Flaming Lips and their song “Do you Realize?”
It’s a little sappy, but it really strikes a chord.
“And instead of saying all of your goodbyes – let them know you realize that life goes fast.”
The reminders are painful, but we still need them. Cherish your family, and let them know every moment with them is a blessing.
Jimmy Alford is a graphic designer, reporter and photographer for the Messenger.