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Friday, May 24, 2013

Just too much

Back on April 14, as we gathered as a team of runners at the DFMC Pasta Party, one of our team members spoke not just as a runner, but as a researcher and recipient of the funds that are raised for the Barr Program.  Dr. David Weinstock was filled with the excitement of running the Boston Marathon, but also was acutely aware of what brought most of the 1500 people in that room together that day.  Cancer had infiltrated our lives.  And he asked, "Why do we want to cure cancer?" and his answer is an one that I have been thinking a lot about over the past few weeks as our friends have experienced losses as a result of cancer:

"Well, my complicated and personal answer is that we don't want to lose what cancer takes away from us.  It takes away friends and loved ones, as so many of you know.  

But that's not all.  Because in a way, it takes the rest of us, too.  Because the moment you feel a lump in your breast or you get the results of a CAT scan that shows a new mass or you even answer the phone and it's a distressed loved one who is calling to tell you they have cancer, the person you were before that moment ceases to exist.  

You become another person with a different life, and the person you were is lost. And that is way too much for cancer to take away."

It IS too much.  Way, way too much and this morning I was again reminded of just how beyond the limits of acceptable it is.  Our community gathered for the funeral of a friend, Danny, whose life was cut short because of cancer.  Danny's wife, Kathy, and their two children, Harry and Nathalie, held hands today, and were brave and strong and sorrowful as they had to say goodbye to someone they love so deeply.  

And it was too much a few weeks back when another friend sat by her mother's side for over a week under hospice care as cancer slowly took her life.  The uncertainty and anxiety of sitting and waiting for the inevitable outcome, all the while trying to be positive and supportive.

And honestly, these sorts of days are too much for me.  It feels like too much to be witness to such sorrow, knowing that there is a sadness they are feeling that is really beyond words.  The empathy and heartbreak I feel for their families and close friends is so very real.  It is too much to know the pain of saying good bye and walking away from someone for the very last time.

It is just too much.

But what is also too much is the immense awe I felt as Danny's kids, at ages 11 and 9, stood up today and spoke their very meaningful, simple, and truthful words about their dad.

And the humor felt in the sharing of funny stories, and the joy in having someone to laugh with which may immediately be followed by tears.

And the comfort I feel knowing how generous and kind a community of friends surrounds both of these families to help them through the coming weeks and months.

And the gratitude in knowing that in difficult times of need and loss is when we most feel the support of those with whom we share friendship and love.

And the sense of purpose that has been drawn from from the quiet, humble resilience of all those who have been through the grueling cancer treatments.  This very purpose that leads Roberta's Rebels to walk in the upcoming North Shore CancerWalk, or fund research in honor of Danny.

And the true inspiration that is derived from the strength and fortitude of those we love, to help others and to create change.

We are different people today for having known this sorrow and felt this grief.  And we are different for also having been witness to such generosity of spirit and overwhelming kindness.  It's a roller coaster of emotions with many highs and lows, but on days like these, it just all feels like too much.

Rest in peace, Danny.

Be good.  Be strong.