I've mentioned before that I am in a Facebook group of gals who all went through diagnosis and treatment in 2012. We were bound by a horrible similarity to a group that we wish we didn't need. But we DID need each other. Terribly.
It has been a wonderful blessing, straight from God himself, that I had someone to turn to when some horrible new side-effect of chemo entered my life. Someone to commiserate with and point me toward a study or article to help cope. We all brought different strengths and weaknesses and were all exactly the same and drastically different.
The problem with starting such a group is that you're dealing with cancer. For some, breast cancer means increased scans and watch yourself closely going forward. For others, breast cancer means that you are dying and should put your affairs in order.
Most of us, however, land somewhere between those two extremes. We have surgeries, chemo, radiation, and fear. We shop for hats, try on wigs, learn about prosthetic breasts, and we worry. We make inappropriate jokes about cancer, baldness, poison, and death. We don't do this to make others uncomfortable. We do it to point out that we DO see the elephant in the room. We do it to laugh, lest we cry.
So we all reaped (and continue to reap) the benefits of fitting into this group. This group of ladies who, by now, are quite close. Closer to each other (most of whom have never met in person) than with some of our own family members. We text each other, "talk" on Facebook into the wee hours of the night, Skype, and Snapchat. We ask for advice, lean on each other, and lift each other up, and laugh.
Yup. It's an amazing thing. Except that one thing. Remember? It's a group centered around cancer. Women with cancer at all different stages. With that comes the possibility of losing one of our sisters to that evil disease. It happened this morning.
Dear sweet Michelle took a recent turn for the worse. We all knew she was stage four, but it was only recently that she found out that the treatment had stopped working. She decided to stop treatment and enjoy her last days with her husband and daughter. We all tried to decide what the best course was. Should we arrange for some meals or a housekeeping service or an uplifting floral arrangement? We spent about a day trying to decide.
And then, this morning, her husband notified one in our group that she passed peacefully this morning. Her sweet little girl will always associate Christmas with the season when she lost her mom. Her husband probably has a gift or two for her, all wrapped and ready. It's a horrible thing to process, and I'm not doing a very good job of it right now.
I've been pretty down about our financial situation. If we had about two more weeks before Christmas, we'd be fine. Kevin's checks have been short because of my surgery and hospitalizations. My short-term disability has kicked in, but no check has been received yet. I was starting to let myself slide toward a pity-party.
But I'm alive. My kids will have their mom at Christmas. My parents don't have to attend my funeral. We will eat, drink, laugh, and love. If my kids get gifts a week or two after Christmas, they won't be bothered in the least. They told me, in fact, that they would happily forgo gifts altogether. We have each other, and we're learning more every day about how much that means.
Rest in peace, Michelle.