You have taught me so many things over the years – years that have unfolded with laughter and tears, with shared emotions, with rocks climbed. Now, you are teaching me how to say goodbye to someone I have never met.
How do you feel so connected to someone you have never met? It isn’t just the “magic” of the internet, or the coincidence of our shared diagnosis, or the fact that we grew up just down the street from each other in the Philadelphia suburbs. There has to be something more. Something ineffable. I can’t wait to meet you on the other side, where we can laugh and talk endlessly, and together untangle the mystery of what drew us together all that time ago, on a Planet called Cancer.
It’s been only a few short days since you shared the news that you have ended your treatment, and have chosen to spend your remaining days embracing your friends and family with a clear mind and a full head of hair. Since hearing your news, you’ve been in my mind and heart every moment. I have felt myself being pulled toward you, wanting to hold your hands and look you in the eye and let you know just how much your fierce intelligence, gallows humor and unrelenting honesty have meant to me. All I can hope is that by the time these words reach you, they will hold some meaning for you. I just wish I could offer something that will help ease your transition out of this life and into the next.
When we survive cancer, we become obsessed with the power of living. We count our blessings every day, looking back at the abyss that almost swallowed us whole. We do everything in the extreme. We cannot believe how lucky we are to still be here.
Over the years, I have written about trying to live after cancer. You, without flinching, have taken us all on a journey toward your end, to a place none of us can really imagine – even those of us who faced death in that first moment of diagnosis. For that, we owe you absolutely everything.
This evening, I cried for you – tears that had been building since listening to your podcast interview with Mel Majoros yesterday evening. It felt good and right to let them out. I can’t understand why your days are ending, and mine continue. It breaks my heart. I wanted so much to see our journeys unfold and intersect well into our twilight years.
After I dried my tears, I went to the yard, and worked on my garden. I am building a garden from old, neglected beds, planting perennials. Learning about patience and care and tenderness for living things. From now on, every time I retreat to my garden, I will think of you.
Sarah, my dear, I wish you warm days and cool evenings, as spring swells and summer beckons. May every moment be precious.
You have made beautiful memories for someone you have never even met.
I thank you for everything, and love you dearly.