It is scary and sad.
I’ve witnessed people in my life be victors and victims to this undiscriminating predator. But when it strikes people you know intimately, it feels closer somehow, a little more personal.
My heart stopped recently when a friend told me she was diagnosed with cancer.
This friend was part of my life in Texas, at a time when I struggled to make ends meet. She encouraged and supported me while I transitioned out of a divorce and into the role of single mom and return college student. She believed in me even when I didn’t. She probably doesn’t realize the positive impact she had on my future. I looked to her as an example of the kind of woman I wanted to be – strong, independent, never a quitter. A person of quality and character.
“Not possible,” I thought.
My brain swirled with all the reasons it was impossible that my friend, this friend, could have cancer. She is one of the most active, fit and healthy eaters I know. Her spirit is void of meanness. She doesn’t get involved in drama or gossip. I’ve never heard her say an unkind word about anyone and she seems to posses a limitless amount of patience and forgiveness. Her marriage is secure and she has raised two amazing children. This is supposed to be her season to enjoy the wonderful life she has created and be proud of the choices she has made, not battle cancer.
My reasoning wasn’t rational, I acknowledge that, and I’m sure she had an overwhelming amount of thoughts racing through her mind too. But she didn’t dwell and she didn’t whine. As her friend, my job is to contribute to her fearlessness, not feed the fear. But the hardest part of living in Michigan is not being physically present when family or friends need me near. I can’t run over with a meal, pitch in with housework or give a warm hug. All I can do is make an effort to stay in touch, and not get distracted by the distance. So I decided to make her a lap quilt, as a reminder that I am present and thinking of her always.
It took me two hours to pick out the flannel and another two days to sew it together. I chose a rag style quilt, something I had not made before, because it seemed the most cuddly and efficient. I raced through the process, eager to get it in the mail.
Unfortunately, in my haste, I snipped too close to most of the seams when fraying the edges and the poor little quilt fell apart in the washing machine. Holding the damaged quilt in my hands, my face grew hot with anger. All that work wasted, I thought.
The quilt sat on my sewing table for two weeks. Everytime I would fix a seam, I would just get disgusted by finding another area to fix.
“Why is that quilt still here?” asked The Hare one evening.
“Because it’s a mess, ” I replied, “I can’t send it, until it’s perfect.”
The Hare ran her fingers across the fuzzy flannel squares. She had helped me pick out each pattern, excited to be part of the process.
“Life’s kinda a mess sometimes,” she sighed, “it’s a good thing we don’t wait until it’s perfect to live it.”
My gift was in the mail the next day.