Well, it’s hard. One of our members, A., died on February 11. The support group that I’m in meets once/week and is a “mixed” group, meaning that we have people with all different kinds of cancer in it, and people who have survived for years, those who are still in treatment, and those who are just out of treatment. A. had pancreatic cancer that had spread to her colon and then had finally spread to her stomach and beyond.
Group was last night, and while I thought we’d probably talk a lot about A., it didn’t turn out that way. We have two new members, one who joined last week and another who joined this week. When we have new members, we turn our attention to them, and this week’s new member had a lot to say. I’m not saying that begrudgingly at all. It often happens that way. I remember being a new member and being so relieved that I found a group where the people were interested and asked me a lot of questions and I had so very much to say. I felt like I was able to unload on people who really understood where I was coming from. So we turned our attention to the new members, as it should be.
Therefore, we didn’t get to talk much about A. In fact, A. seemed like an afterthought, when I really thought we might celebrate her life, talk about our feelings about her loss, and devote some time, tears, and laughter and smiles to A. Like I said, I don’t begrudge the time spent welcoming and getting to know the new members; it was just how the timing was.
We did, though, get a few carpools set up so that nobody would have to go alone to A.’s calling hours. So I’m going to go with about four women from the group tomorrow evening. They’ll pick me up around 5:45. The calling hours are from 6:00-8:00.
A.’s kind, positive presence will certainly be missed in our group.
I did get a brief chance to talk to the group leader about another side effect of losing somebody from the group, or a side effect of somebody, anybody dying from cancer, and that is being thrown back to thinking about your own mortality. She assured me that it’s normal. I told her that since A.’s death, I had gone back to some former thoughts, sometimes very logically thinking about my own memorial service, what I would like in it, etc. etc. But while I might be thinking about it logically, it’s still unnerving to me. It’s still not someplace I want to be.
The group leader, H., said that is totally normal, but to fight those thoughts and try to bring myself back to the here and now. That only God knows when we’ll be taken to heaven and until then, we need to live each day to its fullest. It could be tomorrow or it could be in twenty years; it doesn’t matter what the prognoses say. Even with A.; she outlived her prognosis by nearly four years. It may not have been long enough for those of us left behind, but from what I’ve heard, I think she was ready to go and was at peace with it.
I long for that peace, with whatever happens to me in the future. As a Christian, I think that is where I need to strive to be — at peace with whatever happens. But I have to be honest and say that I’m just not there yet.
I could learn a lot from A.