One of my best friends from high school just lost her big brother to cancer this morning. He was 45 years old. He had flu-like symptoms a year ago and then about 6 months ago was diagnosed with cancer. He had several treatments and operations. But eventually, it was just his time to go. I never knew him well. What I did know of him, I always liked. He was smart and handsome and extremely funny. He and his sister were close; the kind of siblings who could look at one another and say, “Do you remember when I went to the…” and the other would say, “and then you pulled on the….” and crack up laughing at a mutual memory without ever actually saying what it was they were remembering. They had a lot of these moments.
When my father retired from the Army and moved the rest of our family from Maryland to Texas, my sister and I stayed behind. We had an apartment in Laurel about a mile from my friend’s house. My sister and I worked several jobs to pay bills while going to school part-time. We rarely saw each other. And when the apartment got too quiet and I missed the hullabaloo that only life in a large family can bring, I would go to visit them and listen as I ate spaghetti at the kitchen table while they joked and laughed and their mom raised hell about the youngest turning off the kitchen faucet and how the pipes would burst since it was snowing outside and my friend and I would crack up while her older brother was mimicking her behind her back. He always made us laugh.
And as close as my brother and I are, I think that she and her brother were closer. I rarely get to see my brother or talk to him. She spoke to her brother nearly every day. I am certain that she and her siblings and mother and his daughter are all devastated that he is gone. I am so grateful that they got to spend his last days together laughing and loving one another and saying their goodbyes. We, the friends, stand on the outer circle looking in to them; waiting patiently for them to need us for support. We await their need of hugs and tears and help in any form. Because that’s what we must do. We are there for them as an extension of their family. And now that their time of being strong for him and supporting him is done, they will definitely need us to be strong for them and support them.
God please bless this family with patience and strength during their time of mourning.