Saturday, September 7, 2013

On the death of a friend

I didn't want to have to write this post, but I knew it was coming. I almost don't want to write about it because the person I write it for is gone. There is this big hole in my heart suddenly and a loud silence in my Facebook inbox. She and I wrote to each other everyday and now, nothing; the last message I sent to her from the day before last waits unanswered.

I'll let her tell her story to you:

On the day I was diagnosed with cancer Scarlett reached out to me.

Conversation started October 2, 2012

I have cancer too. And mine started while I was pregnant we just didn't know it. I know how hard it is to hear those words "you have cancer." It doesn't feel real. You never think it could happen to you but then it does. And it sucks. Everything about it sucks from the treatment to the way people look at you. You just have to stay positive no matter what. If not for you but for your kids. My little girl has helped get me through everything. [...] I've been through surgery, chemo and radiation. I recently had a recurrence and am trying all kinds of meds now. At this point I will never be cancer free but we're trying hard to get the cancer under control so I can be around for as long as possible. I wish you the best and will be thinking of you. Stay positive and keep smiling

We hadn't spoken to each other despite the passing hello since we were kids and suddenly we were in this fight together, her cancer giving me a new appreciation for how insignificant my cancer was in comparison. We vented to each other about absolutely everything: the hurt we felt each time we had to be in the hospital away from our babies, the pain of surgeries, the side effects of radiation and chemo, our husbands--both named Sean--and how they were handling our cancer journeys. Her daughter Elodie is almost a year older than Dylan and so we had them write letters to each other and knew that if we lived closer together our kids would probably be great friends.


In June, Scarlett wrote to me and told me that she was stopping treatment. She hadn't told anyone except her husband and her mother and she needed to talk about it. She apologized for "burdening me". Burdening ME. That's the kind of person Scarlett was. Always thinking of others. The doctors had given her 6-12 months to live and she told me that although her body was failing quickly, her mind wasn't and she wasn't going to give up hope.


Our conversations turned heavy with talks of what she should leave behind so that her daughter would know her, whether or not she would live to see her 31st birthday (she did, it was last Friday), which cancer drugs worked best for nausea. You want perspective? Talk to a friend who isn't sure she is going to live through the week. You realize right quick what matters in life and what you should sweep under the rug.


I'm glad Scarlett is no longer in pain. I'm so unbelievably upset that she had to fight this battle in the first place. And when I look at my little babies and my husband I will think about how Scarlett's baby girl is now without a mother. Hug your loved ones, often. Tell them you love them. And never give up.

I love you, Scarlett.