Wednesday, April 1, 2009

There is no immortality

It's April Fools Day and the day came and went without a virus destroying the nation's computers. (Should I knock on wood?). It was a typical day for me - until a coworker gave me an update on the wife of a former boss. He was a wonderful man to work for and his wife and kids are just the greatest family. His wife, Helen was diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas. Sadly, many of her internal organs and abdomen were filled with tumors.

She is facing a battle for her life. The doctors are out of treatment options. She is at home with IVs and a feeding tube. Her family has not lost hope. But they are all educated enough to know the odds.

But this isn't a medical log of a friend's health. It's an expression of how deeply this news is affecting me. Helen is the kind of person that we all want to know, that we all want to be. Kind and loving, sparkling eyes, a contagious laugh. She is like a woodland fairy, tiny with red curly hair and a beautiful smile. A wonderful mom who did a million loving things for her children, who all grew up to be fantastic. Both my husband and I admired Helen and her husband so much that we contemplated putting them in our will to take care of our son should anything happen to us.

We are not immortal. Or, at least we stop being immortal somewhere in our adult lives. There is something deeply ironic about cancer and how it kills. The cancer cells ARE immortal. They divide and grow when they should not. They are out of control. If grown in culture in the laboratory, you can keep them going pretty much forever. This is not easy to do with normal human cells. They will die after a set number of divisions. Cancer is especially cruel - death by immortality.

Today, at this very moment, there is something meaningful happening just for you. It could be as simple as just being present in the moment. Looking at the sunset, being in touch with your feelings, or as big as having something sad - or wonderful - happening today - that will forever alter your life.

You can learn from yesterday and enjoy memories. You can plan for the future and take precautions. But all you have is right now. Owe someone a phone call? Been planning lunch with a friend? Don't wait. There might not be any operators standing by. But if you aren't present in the moment, you are the one standing by.

Breathe. Stretch. Smile. Hug. Cry. Laugh. Be brave and take a risk on someone. We find friends in the strangest of ways. The more accidental it appears, the more it likely it was meant to be.

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