As I knelt there looking up at her, holding her hand, she said the words.
“I have cancer. It has gone to my brain. I have a few days, at most to live.”
This is the point when I want to put my fingers in my ears and start singing lalalalalalallalalalla!
“The doctors say it started in my lungs, but has moved to the brain.”
She went on to tell me that there were tumors, eight of them. One was on the brain stem. That was the one that would take her life. The doctors told her that it might be a very painful death.
That was hard to hear, hard for her to say. She didn’t want to suffer, but she really didn’t want us to watch her suffer.
She was probably strong enough to handle it. We weren’t.
She especially had a difficult time understanding how she, a woman who’d never smoked had gotten lung cancer to begin with, never mind understanding why she had no symptoms before it reached her brain.
It was a lot to take in.
She, being a woman that got things done, got on with the business of dying. She reminded me of what items were to be mine (she had told me for years) and gave me instructions for the funeral. She would need a pink dress (of course), and I needed to go to the store and find one. Today. Not tomorrow – today!
However, before I was to leave, she held out her hand to give me her necklace – my necklace now. It was a necklace that she had worn every day of my life that I can recall. I never remember seeing her without it.
As far as this world is concerned, it isn’t worth much. To me, it is priceless. I didn’t want to take it, and I begged her to keep it – just a while longer. She said no, it was mine now.
It broke my heart to take it from her hand; I knew I would never see her wearing it again.
The thing that I loved about the necklace was that when I was younger, I could sit on her lap and push the small diamond back and forth through the little teardrop shaped opening.
Now, the teardrops were real, and they were falling from my face onto the little diamond.
A little extra tidbit about the necklace is its clasp. It is called a “butterfly clasp.” I get as many comments on the clasp as I do on the pendant itself.
I placed it around my neck that day and knew that I, too, would wear it every day.
The phone call.
The ring of the doorbell.
It always catches us off guard. We don’t think hard things can touch us. They happen to other people. Then one day, you are the other people.
NOTE: The necklace broke recently, so I am not wearing it at this time. I’m hoping it can be repaired.