About three weeks ago, I took my son to music class at our local independent music store. As I walked in, I ran into my good friend, Colleen, her husband, and her 8 month old daughter, Scarlett. Colleen and I have been friends since we were about 19 years old, and we spent a lot of time together during those younger years. After I had my daughter, however, my life changed, and I slowly slipped away from all the people I used to hang out with. This never changed how much I loved and respected her, and I have always been happy that she married a local boy and stuck around town.
We have seen each other often around town, chatting for a little while, and then promising to keep in touch. But then, life just continues and with both of us having families and jobs, it’s been difficult to reconnect as often as we could.
Which is why, when I ran into Colleen at the music class, I was ecstatic to see my old friend again. We greeted each other and hugged. I asked how she had been doing.
“Things have been hard,” she said. “I just got diagnosed with eye cancer.” She started to cry.
Shock doesn’t convey how I felt. Colleen is a year younger than me, 33. She is a yoga teacher and a massage therapist. She is super-healthy. She is one of the kindest, most positive souls I have ever met. She is gorgeous. And most importantly, she is the mother to an 8 month old baby girl.
I cried. I didn’t know what to really say. She said she was leaving for UCLA the next day so her and her family were just trying to have a normal day, hence why they were at the music class.
I pulled it together. We sang and danced with the kids and noted how different our lives were now–the singing and dancing had changed since we were 21.
When I left, we hugged and she told me to tell everyone I knew, to spread the word so that our friends’ thoughts and prayers could be directed her way. If we prayed hard enough, the universe had to answer.
So that’s what I did. I went home, called some people, told them the news. We all prayed and sent positive energy Colleen’s way. She had surgery on her eye, and though she is not cancer free yet, and they are still awaiting the pathology reports to decide the next course of action, things are looking much better. She is healing.
So today, my kids and I met up with her for brunch. She apologized for how emotional she was when she told me she had cancer. To me that was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. While the news was devastating, it was a moment of raw, unfiltered emotion, something we seem to lack in this country. It made the moment real. It made the scenario real. It made Colleen real. And look how beautiful she is:
Today, I am thankful for my beautiful, healing friend, Colleen.
With us at brunch was another old friend, Jenn. Jenn, Colleen, and I have all known each other since we were teenagers, but Jenn and Colleen are “besties” and have a bond as close as sisters. When Colleen was diagnosed, Jenn came down from her home in San Francisco to help. Jenn, besides being one of the most fun and giving people I have ever met, has spent the past 2 1/2 weeks living with Colleen and her family, cooking, helping with baby Scarlett, and caring for her best friend. If we could all have a friend like Jenn, we would never need anything else–of that, I am convinced.
Today I am thankful for Jenn. Look how beautiful she is:
We knew our brunch was over when my son started throwing food and utensils across the table. As he chucked something (a fork? a crayon? who knows…it went by way too fast), toward the table next to us, I turned around to apologize. There sat an elderly–though still vivacious–couple. The woman nodded in understanding.
“Oh, you probably have kids yourself and understand,” I said.
“We’ve had seven,” the man replied.
“Seven??? How long have you been married?” I asked.
“67 years,” he replied.
67 years! 67 years! And here they were, sipping champagne, and actually enjoying each other. We chatted for a bit, and then we left.
I drove home pondering this. I still can’t get over the fact that they’ve been married for 67 years. I can’t imagine loving and living with someone for that long. But to know it exists, to know it can happen, to know that some stick it out, is to know that love–in all its various forms–is possible.
Today, I am thankful for this loving couple:
I had a lot to be thankful for today.