My friend died today

My friend died today. I just want to say that out loud. Because, you see, this has been coming for some time now and I’m trying to realize that her cancer is over. Her initial diagnosis was 3 1/2 years ago and, on the one hand, I’m grateful. Her original prognosis was 2 1/2 years. She beat the estimates by almost half again as much, which is was just like her. She enjoys enjoyed surprising people by beating their expectations. I’m grateful for that extra year. On the other hand, there have been terrible, dreadful times of pain and sickness, particularly these last few months. I wish she had been spared the daily radiation and its consequences. Journeying with someone through illness is such a confusing mish-mash of conflicting emotions….really high hopes for healing tempered with the reality that most women with Stage IV breast cancer don’t survive. As far as statistics are concerned, my friend has now joined the ranks of those who didn’t survive. She knew it would take a miracle. There were days when she confidently spoke of her belief that God would heal her. And there were days when she knew that she was too tired and too sick to continue living.

I was talking with someone today about the last picture of a person you carry in your mind. I don’t want to only remember my friend as she looked this past year. First of all, she would hate that. She’d much rather be remembered with hair! More importantly, she was never one to sit still for too long, so remembering her confined to her bed doesn’t capture who she was. My favourite memories of her include sitting up all night playing Diablo in the LAN room of the gaming company where she worked. (The fact that we were playing in a LAN room gives you some idea how many years ago this was.) We’d have sushi, then stop by the Chinese bakery for middle of the night snacks and head to her office. On more than one occasion, after battling the minions of darkness all night, I’d watch the sun coming up on my drive home. I’ll always enjoy the memories of St. Patrick’s Days spent eating corned beef and cabbage and watching Irish movies. The Quiet Man was a frequent choice providing endless memorable quotes, although in the past few years Waking Ned Devine became one of our favourites. Another memory which captures some of the best of who she is was happened during the time she worked in one of the high rise buildings in San Francisco. She was at work the day a gunman entered the building where she worked and killed eight people, wounding several others. I remember her story of finding a desk to hide under, and making sure the others in her office were safe, as well. In typical fashion, she made light of the experience by emphasizing the fact that she was the one who found the bottle of whiskey and brought it under the desk so everyone could have a drink to help calm their fears. Wherever she went, she injected life into those around her! [Read more…]

More than sex

You know the ones I mean. They’re the neighbours you wave to, then hurry inside the house so you don’t have to spend too much time talking with them. They’re the people you’re reluctant to invite to the party. Heaven forbid you end up seated next to one of them on the plane or the subway. You know, the ones who can never stop ranting and raving about that one issue that has them tipped over, and they’re determined to explain why YOU should be as incensed as they are. You just want to say “lighten up already!” I have never wanted to be one of those people.

Yes, well….I think I’m now perilously close to that territory, and as it turns out, it’s exactly where I want to be.

I saw and heard three related things recently, all within about an hour of each other, and I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. While waiting in line at the drug store, I saw a cover of People magazine focusing on child beauty pageants and the TV show about them called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Next I was walking through a shopping mall and passed a large Victoria’s Secret store. Oversized Victoria’s Secret pictures were posted in the windows, young models posed provocatively in shiny lingerie. Finally as I was driving home after finishing my errands, I heard a radio news story about a group of people in Oakland, California, that has banded together to combat sex trafficking and child prostitution in their neighbourhood. One of the statistics that grabbed my attention was that the average age of a trafficked girl in the United States is TWELVE. Three different pictures of girls and young women, but all of them rooted in a similar perspective. All three were either identifying the primary value of girls as being their sexual attractiveness, or introducing the idea of being sexually attractive to girls too young to process and understand this input. [Read more…]