This picture was taken around May 3. Yvonne had a birthday and Jane came into the office to celebrate with us. We set up tables in the conference room. People brought in fruit and cheese and dessert. We sat and talked. Jane asked me about my kids. She looked me in the eye and with her questions, let me know she cared. Amidst the radiation, the loss of hair, the road that she had no choice but to travel down, she looked me in the eye and cared about me.
Jane died yesterday.
Cancer stole her body away.
No one was ready for her to go. We wanted more of her. More of her beauty, more of her caring concern, more of her laughter, her love, more of her.
Everyone at work is stunned. Donna and Yvonne continue to amaze me. They have tears but they have strength to make thoughtful decisions, grace to ease the atmosphere in the office, and caring offerings of help to Jane's family. They are full of love and empty of themselves. I marvel at them. It's as if they hold my hand when I walk into the office, pat it, hug me and tell me it's going to be okay. They manage to do all this while their hearts ache over their loss of a dear friend.
On my dresser is a card I bought to send to Jane this week. She had had a hard time with her first chemo treatment and I wanted to send her something. I was also going to send her a copy of Anne Lamott's book called, "Traveling Mercies". I thought she'd like it. It's a book that offers some thoughts on faith and the author is slightly irreverent. I thought Jane might like that. I thought if I had cancer, I might be a bit irreverent as well. The card is going to stay on my dresser. I want to look at it, think of Jane and cry.
I want to share with you something that Anne Lamott wrote in her book.
.....grief sucks, it really does. Unfortunately, though, avoiding it robs us of life, of the now, of a sense of living spirit. Mostly I have tried to avoid it by staying very busy, working too hard, trying to achieve as much as possible. You can often avoid the pain by trying to fix other people; shopping helps in a pinch, as does romantic obsession. Martyrdom can't be beat.
But the bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that feeling grief will give you. A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart. But since your life may indeed have fallen apart, the illusion won't hold up forever, and if you are lucky and brave you will be willing to bear disillusion. You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying; and then, finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things, softness and illumination.
|From left to right: Donna, Jane, Me and Yvonne|
If Jane were sitting beside me right now, I think she'd grab my hand, pat it, look me in the eye and tell me to be brave, to follow Donna and Yvonne's lead. I'd look at her and understand softness and illumination.
Grief does suck but Jane was so worth it.