A friend of mine recently picked up her family and drove 3 hours to be at the bedside of an ailing relative.
The reason: her husband had received an email from the relative telling him how proud the person was of him, what a wonderful family he had, and how his life had turned out well.
He also added that he understood that he was not just around the corner.
My friend and her family dropped everything and left to see the relative the next day.
He is elderly and suffers from a blood cancer.
Blood cancers include leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma.
I have a blood cancer.
I have also written emails like this relative.
I have written them when there was clear evidence stating that I would die and possibly soon. I wanted people to know the good that they have brought to my life, and even if we haven’t spoken, that I remember.
I want people to know they are important.
I want them to remember that life is what happens in between rushing to the grocery store or carting kids from activity to activity.
I like to say specifically what I remember and enjoyed most.
These events are usually simple, a time when we laughed ourselves to tears, got lost on a road trip, pretended we were walking to our car to watch spot seekers follow us only to run off laughing, or pointing and screaming at strangers on the subway acting like we had spotted a celebrity when in reality the person was not Usher, Ciara, Bon Jovi, etc.
The time spent together, relating to one another, is what makes life worth the hardships.
Too many people understand this too late. It’s the reason people call lost or estranged relatives from their death beds in hopes of making amends or telling them how important a role they served in their life.
Stepping towards the end, we know the little things count. We realize who counts.
I’ve never heard a deathly ill patient say they wished they watched more tv. I’ve never had someone struggling to breathe ask to read a gossip magazine.
These things provide distractions. They are good and available when reality has become too stressful. They are an outlet.
Life happens elsewhere.
Life happens in everyday moments at the family dinner on Sunday night that you hate attending but do anyway. Life happens at sporting practice when you’re high-fiving other parents and snapping pictures because your child finally hit the ball off the tee or sunk their first free throw.
I know this because I’ve sent these last emails before desperate to make others aware that they are important, that their good deeds are not unnoticed, and that even the simplest gestures have a resounding effect.
Like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings and causes a tidal wave on the other side of the earth, when something life changing happens, we rarely realize the impact and the people involved until our ability to reach out to them has dissipated and our time is finitely limited.
In these moments, the trials and tribulations have subsided, and the most important lesson to leave on earth to those who remain is how they have contributed to making life great and ask that they continue to do so even without you.
Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.
He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.
Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."
I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.
I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."