We first met in an art class (paper mache) for people who have or had cancer. There were less than 10 women in the class. It took a while to figure out who was finished with their treatment, who was still in treatment, and who, like me, would always be in treatment.
P was striking. Tall, and thin, with short light hair. She was often engrossed in her work. She did not chit-chat like the other women.
I discovered that P, like me, had metastatic cancer. She had a different type of cancer and, truthfully, it was a miracle that she was still alive. Her original prognosis was grim, 6 months. I met her several years later.
A nurse by profession, P did not live in an illusion about her fate. But she continued to live life to the fullest. When I met her, she was planning her daughter's wedding.
When my support group started, almost two years ago, she was surprised to see me. I realized she had not comprehended that I also had mets. She was friendlier after that.
Through our support group, I got to know her better. She was intelligent and perceptive. I especially appreciated her perspective on parenting.
P did not join this year's support group. I called her to find out what was going on. She really appreciated the call. She had a conflict with her chemo schedule and it was too difficult for her to come.
Every few months, I called her to see how she was doing. Each time, she seemed happy to hear from me. We would chat for a while and she would update me about her family and her health. She was doing well.
I learned that one of the nurses in the hospital was a close friend of hers. So, periodically, I would ask the nurse about her as well.
It was a while since I last called. So, today I decided to call.
As soon as I asked to speak with her, I suspected that something was wrong. Her daughter handed the phone to someone, and I thought it was P. It was her sister. She was sorry to tell me that they were sitting Shiv'a.
P passed away on Sunday.
Today and Saturday night are the last days of shiv'a (the 7 day mourning period). I would have liked to go, but I won't be able to. Instead, I feel at a loss. I have to focus on getting ready for Shabbat.
I am so sad. So, so sad. But, if I think about P too much, I won't be able to attend to the immediate needs of my family as we all work to prepare for Shabbat.
I want to talk with someone, but I don't know who. The friend I would have called first is in the US. I tried calling one of the women from our group, but she was not home. I tried calling one of the women from Beit Natan; she was not home either.
So, I went back to work. I still have to finish cooking. There is only an hour left.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,