A little over 2 years ago, we travelled to visit a friend in North Carolina. On our visit, he introduced us to his new girlfriend. We really liked her and she seemed to be a good match for our friend. Over the days that we spent with her, something was revealed...she had cancer as a child.
This was the first time I can remember meeting someone who had cancer as a child. I remember thinking it seemed odd. After all, you don't hear a lot about kids having cancer and I just imagined them bald and sickly in a hospital bed. I couldn't picture what they might look like if they survived and grew up. Did they survive? Did they ever recover?
I didn't think too much on it and I didn't really ask her much about it. We enjoyed our visit and then came home with hopes that we would see this girl again, as she seemed like a good partner for our friend.
I thought of her again a few months later, on the day that my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. As my mind immediately conjured up those images of bald, sickly children in hospital beds, I remembered our friend's girlfriend. She was an adult, lived on her own, had a job, and appeared very normal. She made it! I started trying to think of her every day. As we sat in the surgery waiting room, I thought of her. As we started chemotherapy, I thought of her. As my child had scars, bald patches, and started to look sick, I thought of her.
I didn't know her well. I only spent a few days with her and I couldn't really remember what we had talked about. Just normal stuff. She was just a normal person. In the scary days at the hospital, I clung to those very normal, almost non-memories I had with this woman. She was the face of survival for me and she was what I hoped my child could grow up to be.
Tomorrow, Joe and I travel again to see these friends. This time, we are going for their wedding. When Joe got the call from our friend to let us know they were getting married, I cried tears of joy for our friend. We love him dearly and I was so happy that he had found his match in life.
Then, I cried a different kind of tears. I thought of all this girl had gone through in her childhood. I thought of how much was stolen from her in life because of her diagnosis. I thought of the things she probably missed out on and the things she never thought she would get to do. I thought about the milestones in life we all experience and was so overcome by thinking of this girl who survived so much to be able to get to this moment to walk down the aisle.
Saturday, I will be joyful, like many, over the union of these two who are so right for each other. But Saturday, I will also be filled with another emotion...hope. Hope for a future filled with milestones and normalcy.
Congrats Chris and Sara! May you experience all of life's milestones together!