Sunday, August 16, 2009

Edge of Abyss

I was shocked to see him. Jessica invited me to a birthday dinner for her father, who turned ninety five and still dates, dances a couple of times a week, and has a healthy appetite. Her husband, on the other hand, used to weigh three hundred eighty pounds, now reduced to close to a skeleton.

He has throat cancer for two years now. The doctor said the chemo and the radiation treatments failed to keep the cancer cells at bay, and they have spread to his bones all over his body. He told Jessica her husband might have one year to live.

We were devastated when we heard the news. Jessica seems to be handling it very well. She didn’t fall apart. She didn’t cry whenever I talked to her. Her days are going normally as if he had a bad cold and would take a while to recover. She even resumed her photography classes just to get away from it – which is probably a good thing.

I know I wouldn’t be so strong if this happened to me. I would definitely cry a lot. Instead of classes, I would probably go to church for support. I wonder if this means I’m weak.

I also wonder if her husband knew he would have to go through this before his life would end prematurely, would he have smoked for thirty years before Jessica finally made him quit?

Most of all, I feel so bad about this whole thing. I’m at a complete loss of words as to what to say to him, and I feel very guilty about it. What can I do to make him more at peace with this dreadful and hopeless situation? What can I say to a person who’s staring at the dark abyss that he will have to jump in soon?


  1. Maybe you don't really need to say anything. My dear friend, 32, just died in June and we all knew for about 9 months. He talked about it factually but wanted to go on as usual as long as he could. And let's hope he doesn't step into a dark abyss but goes "to a better place." It is a huge loss for him and his family and friends but everyday that he can still fit in as one of the gang, the better. Just tell him and his wife that you are there for them and when they begin to really need you, you will know what they need. That is different for everybody. Follow your gut. Don't hold back. It makes us healthy people feel very thankful, doesn't it?

  2. Sarah,
    I think you probably found your answer in the coffee shop, if not I hope you have a little more peace in knowing you have found so many shoulder to lean and hands to hold here in the bloggers world, prayers with you and your friend.

  3. I was there for a family member on her path to a peaceful death. the one thing I continualy asked "what can I do for you today?" That was the most important aspect of living in the moment. Just remember, today is the only thing we have.

  4. thanks everyone. i feel real blessed to have found so many helping souls in blogger. can't tell you guys how much i appreciate it. mailed the card out today.

  5. Turning to the church does not mean your are weak. It means you are strong.

    Talk to him about God. Find out what his religious beliefs are and talk to him about them. Talk to him about life in the "now".

    I do not think he would have quite smoking all those years ago. My grandmother smoked for years and years and then finally quit. She got cancer and died about 15 years after she quit smoking. I have known people who have died of smoking related cancer who didn't even smoke. It was second hand smoke from restaurants and other places that killed them.

    There are so many what ifs and should haves that sometimes we wonder if it would have actually made a difference. Only God knows.



Related Posts with Thumbnails