Like I said, last night, I was up late working on a chapter for the book I’m hoping to write about my sister Ruthie, her cancer fight, and the town that walked with her through the valley of the shadow of death. It has occasioned my revisiting all the things I wrote on my old Beliefnet blog in the two weeks after her diagnosis. I cut and pasted those blog entries into a writing program so I could organize a timeline of events. I wrote 10,000 words in that short time period, all about my sister, and death, and courage, and love.
It is striking to look back on the events back then, and to reflect on how sudden and cruel it all was. When Ruthie finally went in to see why she was having such a persistent cough and shortness of breath, doctors found odd spots on her lungs — odd, because her lymph nodes were fine, which meant it probably wasn’t cancer. They kept testing. Suddenly, practically overnight, she not only had cancer, but Stage IV cancer. It had spread from her lungs to her brain, organs, and bones. And the biggest tumor of all had wrapped itself around her superior vena cava, making it inoperable.
Just like that. Forty-one years old. Clean living. Never smoked once in all her life. Husband. Three kids. A good life. She died five weeks ago yesterday.
Do you ever wonder why we live like we do? Seriously. I mean, next week you could find yourself in a hospital bed with a death sentence. Will it have been worth it, the life you’re living now, the choices you’re making, or not making, within the freedom you have within your own circumstances? I’m not accusing, I’m just asking. Talk about it.