Sunday, February 24, 2008
He has called His Beloved home
It has been a hard two weeks. My neighbor passed away. Her name was Erica. Erica. I wish you could have met her. She moved into the house next door about 5 or 6 months ago. There was a mix up on when their lights were to be turned on and they were left with no lights for the first 5 days. This was in August...hot month in Seabrook. We loaned them candles, an extension cord and a small fridge. She took it all in stride.
Young. Did I mention she was young? She always had a smile on her face. She came by one day to give us a thank you gift. I had to ask...what's up with the blond wig. I knew...but I wanted her to tell me. She explained to me that she was Stage IV breast cancer. It was a relapse. She originally was diagnosed in her early twenties....three weeks after her wedding. They removed the cancer but two years later it came back with a vengeance. Her husband, Paul, had been following a new medication and she was accepted into a study here at MD Anderson. That prompted them to move here. Paul, Erica, their 2 dobermans and 2 cats packed up and moved here, next to me.
We talked for a long time. I too was a cancer survivor. And to me...that is how I knew to call us...those who have been diagnosed and are now in treatment or over treatment. You see, until you are diagnosed, you are dying because you are not defending yourself. But once you begin treatment, you are surviving. But Erica was more than surviving. She was living. She found a job and worked during her chemos. I understood why. To sit and think about nothing but yourself can drive you crazy, so you focus on other things, other people.
They built a pool. It is beautiful. I am sure she couldn't wait to use it. But winter came and it was too cold to swim. She laughed alot. And in her eyes you saw joy and a will to live. She had everything to live for. A wonderful husband, family and friends. They had no children yet. Always fighting this beast called cancer. It probably seemed like a whisper murmuring through the house at all times. When will it be over? How long do I have to take medicine? What side effects can I expect this time? How long do I have to be hooked to this machine? When will my hair grow back? These questions were whispers throughout the house. But so was her laughter. Life was at the forefront of her thoughts. What to do after cancer was on her mind.
At age 31 with a mind and a spirit that wanted to live, her body betrayed her and she left us. I didn't know her for long but it affected me soo much. It still affects me. I cry as I write this post. She had every reason in this world to live. I could justify in my mind why she was going to live. God wouldn't take someone so young, so full of life and so willing to live. Someone that was such a fighter. Pray Rozette. Pray and she will be healed. I mean, I was. I prayed and had it out with God and He healed me. But why not her? Why not the 13 members of my family that were diagnosed before I was diagnosed? Why were His answers to us so different?
ERICA embodied all my hopes, dreams and fears. She expected to make it through this ugly disease. She knew that she knew that this was just a small chapter in her life. She had so much to live for. But it came back and this time it would not let go. It hung on and choked her and her family. Crazy as it may sound, I lean on this hunch...no longer a fact...that I will not get cancer again and if I do, I will be healed. I have an 11 year old daughter that needs me and a husband that I love. It can't come back and if it does, I am going to fight and it won't win. Or so I thought. It isn't enough to just have good reasons to live or a will to live or a prayer. God is God.
GOD is God. We grow with all things. Some are glorious things (a new baby, a true love found, a dream come to fruition). But some are not (death of a child, death of loved one, a dream fallen apart, a marriage broken). But one thing remains the same...God is God. And in the midst of my brokenness over Erica's death, I found peace. I don't know why. I am still working on that part. I know that her struggle is over and I know that during these times I pray Paul and her family lean on God for His healing of their hearts. And I know from experience, that during those times that you just seem so tired and so weak and so alone that during those times when we are too tired to go on, He holds us. And when we are in His arms, nothing feels better. No place feels safer than in His arms. In the midst of all this brokenness comes healing and that is a Glorious thing.
So Paul and everyone else, to God be the glory. To God is where you will find the most glorious peace and love and understanding. Erica, beloved, you are home. One day I will see you again and I will see your smile again. They say that a person lives on as long as they live in the hearts of others. If that is true, then as long as I live Erica will also because I will never forget you.