06 February 2012

Stratospheric traces of a transitory flight

Today, the son is 18.

My oldest child has reached adulthood.

One of the few things I've asked for in my life, one of the goals that has truly mattered to me, is to see my children reach adulthood, to be here to mother them until they are launched, to see that they are equipped for their lives. I'm halfway there now. I am profoundly grateful.

Today, another mother died.

She didn't live to see her young sons grow up.

I didn't know this woman in the real world though it's remarkable how real some people become through their writing. I found her blog by accident a few years ago, and then rediscovered it by strange coincidence around the time of her most recent cancer recurrence. I would check periodically to see how she was doing--I can't even tell you why her well-being particularly mattered to me. It may have been that her voice was strong and frequently funny; it may have been that she was a young mother fighting for the time to raise to her boys. Then in January, 2011, she unknowingly became a sort of lifeline as I raged and fought my own battle against pain and paralysis, fought a body that is failing far too quickly for its age. Unsurprisingly, reading someone with terminal cancer creates a certain perspective. I might have had a day where I fell over, but I was going to live to fall over another day, while she was facing the end of her life. I have to admit that as the cancer invaded her spine, my own throbbed with terrible empathy, and I wished her peace and comfort.

I've often written how we find each other in odd ways, how our lives meet at mysterious intersections, and how we may have an impact on others' lives without necessarily realizing that we are. She was a compelling voice for cancer research without doubt, but the words that she wrote that resonated most for me were how we are "promised a life." There is no guarantee of duration or quality; there is no guarantee that we will see our children grown or that our bodies won't fail us. We are promised a life.

Today, I saw my son reach his 18th birthday.

How I wish she'd lived to see her sons celebrate theirs.

Go listen to some music: "Vapor Trail" from the album Vapor Trails by Rush.

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