I stopped writing about my friend Faith, who has been battling cancer since last October. Writing brought me little comfort as she and her family wrestled with treatment decisions in an effort to battle this horrible illness.

Faith has fought bravely. After well known and traditional remedies ran their course, she tried new and somewhat experimental treatments, which extended both the length and quality of her life for months after doctors predicted. She hasn't been afraid of death, but felt the need to do what she could to stay around as long as possible for the sake of her two sons.

Faith and I have stayed in touch, but rarely had long conversations. We mostly played phone tag and left little messages for each other. There has been no way of predicting the good days versus the bad ones. Often when I phoned or left messages, Faith would be resting, and because the cancer had spread to her brain, she wouldn't always remember that I called.

In an effort to do something to help, I've started picking up the boys from school on Wednesdays and any other time Steve, Faith's husband, needs me. It's a small task, but one that I yearn to perform each week. I'm always reminded of my friend's one-time vibrancy through her boys, especially her younger son Alex.

Alex not only looks like his mother, but he has inherited many of Faith's mannerisms, especially when speaking. She has a slow way of conversing--enunciating clearly, hitting each consonant very precisely. Alex speaks with the same deliberacy, and when he hits his Js, tears well up in my eyes. He sounds just like his mother.

Being with the boys this past Wednesday was especially difficult. I'd learned earlier in the day that my friend's condition had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. She could no longer speak, and was mostly unresponsive to even the simplest question. On that very Wednesday and with all her options exhausted, Faith was being admitted to a hospice, where she would spend the last days of her life. Given the suffering, I hope she doesn't have many days left.

I've decided not to visit Faith in the hospice because, knowing her the way I do, she wouldn't want this to be my last memory of her. I appreciate that hospices are well thought out facilities, staffed with sympathetic professionals who make the unbearable, more bearable. However, I choose to remember my friend, a lover of all things ballroom, on the dance floor--the place where we first met and spent many happy times together.

I will never forget her.


kenju said...

I understand your feelings about this. A very good, old friend of mine died from colon cancer some years ago. Her daughter kept her at home, and Hospice people came in 2x per day. They are a Godsend. I was with my friend when she died, and I will always consider it an honor to have been the one with her. It was very hard to handle emotionally, so maybe you are right not to go.

mollymcmommy said...

i am so sorry about your friend ((hugs))
i hope in her last days she is comfortable and finally finds peace.


running42k said...

Cancer sucks. I understand about not wanting to see your friend in the hospice, remembering her the way she was, but try to send a note her way so that she knows she is being thought of and not forgotten. (My two cents and I hope you don't mind the unsolicited advice.)

AmyD said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Just the way you explained how she enunciates made me like her, so I can't imagine your pain and feeling of helplessness right now.

I think being there for her family is the best way to cope, and to show you love her, and I'm sure she's appreciative of how well you know her, by not going to see her at her most dark time.

Hang in there, and know you showed your love and support the best you could.

├ůsa said...

I’m sorry to hear about your friend! There aren’t any words I can think of to give the proper comfort. Take good care of yourself.