Loving….

This is my friend Shannon. We met at work. When she came to work with me in the office we became fast friends. She is so caring, and giving, and thoughtful. So much so she has literally given her last five bucks to someone in more need than she. It was her LAST five bucks yet she gave it to someone who may not have had five bucks for a while. I don’t know how she can be so compassionate and giving when there were so many times she had nothing to give.

Shannon was one of the first few friends to know. When I got the call at work I texted her the results. She was working in the back. She had been promoted to supervisor and no longer worked with me in the office. Anyway she came running into the office in tears. Hugged me so tightly and said it wasn’t fair. She went on about how it isn’t fair because I do it all right. I workout I eat right, I laugh and have friends and take care of myself. How could I possibly have cancer. As most people know it has nothing to do with how fit you are, how healthy you eat, how happy life is. Cancer doesn’t care. Cancer takes whoever it wants.

Shannon and I like to have dates. We kept the dates up after the call. We went and had sushi and painted pottery together. We laughed and shared and gossiped about work. It was perfect. It was normal. It is what I needed.

When I was recovering she came by with lunch. It was very sweet. She went to the local health food store and bought lots of yummy foods. I felt bad, I still feel bad that I couldn’t eat the salad she brought. I had eaten it recently and then threw up. If you are like me whatever you ate right before you throw up you never want to eat again. I could see she was disappointed . Not in me but in herself for not getting something I wanted. I tell you, I still feel bad for invoking that emotion in her.

Being back at work full-time she will check in on me daily. With a very cheerful ‘how you doing’ This matters. This makes my day. That and her great hugs.

This picture was taken years ago at a wine tasting day with other friends. It is my favorite picture of us. When I was going through everything this was her FB picture. It was a reminder that she was thinking of me. For Christmas she had the photo printed and framed. I will ALWAYS have this now no matter where I am.

Having Shannon in my life has given me reason to keep fighting. Fight to be good. Fight to be thoughtful. Fight to be there when needed. Fight to be ready to fight.

Love is my friend Shannon.

The love continues…..

I don’t know if it is the weather or perhaps because I have been under the weather. Continuing to write daily about the people who helped me through my fight has become a chore. I am just so tired that even taking time to write is exhausting. No matter I am going to tackle it once again.

Today I am talking about my friend Kim. Kim came into my life through Zumba. We were taking the same class together and we hit it off. It was easy being friends with Kim. We loved the workout classes we took. We were both on a quest to eat better and make healthier choices. We laughed and danced and ate together often. She took my family in at Christmas. Well she took us to her mother-in-law Linda’s house for Christmas. Linda has since become my friend and they all feel like family. That is what it was about Kim, she was family.

Kim had breast cancer before me and shortly after my mom. It was an eye opener and heavy experience watching my ‘Spokane sister’ go through this. Her cancer was advanced. She had to do six rounds of chemotherapy before they could do her surgery. It was hard to be there for her when I didn’t fully understand what she needed. Being on the other side of this now I TOTALLY understand what is needed.

As I was going through chemo. Kim would check in with me often. The day that I had a cold and skipped work because it was the first round of chemo and it scared me. She came over and picked up this very special orange juice I wanted. It is expensive and I have only seen it at the health food store. Didn’t matter she drove out of her way to get it for me. She remembers those moments oh so well. Still so fresh in her head.

When I found out about having to do chemo she helped me cut my hair way shorter. They say that if you cut your hair short it will be easier to deal with losing it. That is a lie but at the time it sounded good.

I am thankful to have my friend who is like family in my life. Kim would ask all the right questions. Check in on me often but not too often because she knows how tiring all of this can be. She would come and visit to clean my house or do the dishes yet keep the visits short. Most importantly she would pray for me daily.

Love is continuing. Today love is my friend Kim.

Love is ever-growing

I told Keith I wasn’t going to write about him in this series. I explained that I wrote about him often through all of this. He said he agreed with me and wasn’t sitting over here going  ‘why hasn’t she written about me’ I knew that is how he felt. I wasn’t going to write about him. Then Sunday happened..

 

On Sunday I was taking it easy. Still recovering from my cold. Not in any hurry to be active or productive. I had a board meeting I had to attend that afternoon and a few things I wanted to cross off my goal list. That was it. Outside of the cold nothing out of the ordinary in my life.

I watched a movie on Netfilx, Nancy Drew. I made coffee. He got up I made us breakfast. The coffee was good.  The movie was fun. I didn’t burn breakfast. It was a very normal routine day. I keep repeating this so you understand that the next part just can’t be explained.

I got up to shower so I would be cleaned up of the meeting. I get out of the shower and then it happens. I start crying. I can’t stop crying. I go to Keith and tell him the best way that I can why I am crying.

When I was drying off in the bathroom I looked at my hair. My short, super curly, fifty shades of gray hair. I lost it. The hair is killing me. I can’t do it anymore. I look in the mirror and I see the gray and it is an instant reminder that I am broken. Forever broken. So many people love the gray. Have told me over and over again to not dye it because it is such a pretty color. That I can pull it off. That it doesn’t make me look old. I don’t see any of that, I see broken. I see abnormal. I see evidence of a fight that aged me.

Keith listened. He didn’t interrupt me. He started to tear up with me. He didn’t want me to cry. He says “Renee I love you let’s go to the store and get you some hair dye now” “whatever I need to do to help you so you feel better about yourself”

He drove me to a beauty supply shop. He watched me cry again talking to the sales girl. He helped me pick out a color. When I asked if he would help me do the back of my head he hesitantly agreed to it. (my friend ended up helping me instead, he gave a sigh of relief)

The moment we did that I felt empowered. Like I was taking something in my life back in control. I became productive and did dishes, laundry and cleaned the bathroom. In all honestly I felt empowered and encouraged because of Keith. He has done so much for me over this year. I never knew he loved me this much. I never knew I needed him this much.

Often now I find I do not want to do anything without him. I think this is what love is. When you realize what love is.

We are celebrating this month. Our anniversary is the 16th. We will be married for 29 years. I feel like this past year has been our strongest and best year yet.

Love is ever-growing. Love is Keith.