It's been about a month since we got the news that one of our bestie bonco friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After a biopsy, it has been labeled: High grade Glioma - 4th stage. Don't google it, it's disheartening. They have been told it's inoperable. They can do chemo and radiation to attempt to abort it's growth, and buy some time, but the time they are talking is anywhere from weeks to 9 months. As you can imagine, watching our friends, ones that we count in our bestie circle, go through this is hard.
These guys are in their mid 50s. Their children are grown and they are now enjoying their grandchildren. Certainly too young to be handed a death sentence. Especially one that came at them seemingly out of the blue.
Splenda and I have been processing it all. Doing what we can to serve and help them. Imagining what it would feel like to be in their shoes, but most of all - appreciating life. Why is it that it takes someone close to you, or even a family member face their own mortality to force one to look a little deeper at their life, their contributions to society, and their own meaning and mission?
Have Splenda and I been more introspective? Absolutely. Have I re-evaluated my priorities? Most certainly. But more than anything, my heart breaks on a daily basis for my friends.
But let me tell you this. I cannot come away from their home after a visit without smiling and laughing. Rob hasn't lost a bit of his wit, charm and sense of humor. Debbi is still her positive, upbeat and optimistic self. She still finds time to serve others, write our ward missionaries and serve in her capacity on the board for Festival of Trees. I am in awe of them. Both of them. They are facing this trial head on and with both barrels loaded.
I am learning from them. Not just to appreciate life, cherish every moment, express my love more openly, prioritize better, but their examples of strength is absolutely inspiring to me.
When we first moved into our home over 22 years ago, Debbi was one of the first neighbors to reach out and welcome us. I will never forget her standing in our living room with a pan full of goodies, introducing herself and apologizing she couldn't stay long. She had just suffered a significant accident and was burned over a good portion of her arms and legs. AND YET SHE BROUGHT US GOODIES!
Over the years, our friendship has developed. 20 years ago, we started a bonco group with some other couples in our ward. We actually played the game for the first year and then got bored. Since then we get together every month for dinner. We have had some amazingly fun times together. The fun bus to Wendover, the mock trial for two guys turning 40, the overnnighter at a bed and breakfast for my 40th. The long nights talking and laughing and sharing our lives. We've been through kids, marriages, parents dying, grandchildren, a divorce in the group - we've done it all. Not only is our bonco besties been a huge support network for us all, but Rob and Deb in particularly have blessed my own life in too many ways to even count.
She has hosted more showers, did most of the work on Corbin's first wedding, brought treats to my kids, and made sure our bonco group adopted a family every year for sub-for-santa. My loyalty to her was sealed several years ago, when one morning I awoke to see flowers planted in my flowerbed and a love note left of the door. I was going through a particularly hard trial, she knew it, and at some point in the early morning hours, got down on her hands and knees and planted flowers in my dirt. I will never forget that as long as I live. It was the kindest, most generous thing ever done for me. A friend, in my dirt, helping to give me something beautiful. So illustrative of true friendship. My loyalty and love for her was sealed that morning. I will defend her, help her, love her to my death and beyond. And even then, no matter how I help her, I will always feel like it's never enough. How can I ever demonstrate how much I love these too?
You can imagine then, the heartache that Splenda and I are feeling for them right now. BUT - not anything compared to their own emotions. I don't blog this to focus on my feelings, but rather, to extend a plea for prayers for my dear friends. Prayers of comfort, peace, health, and for the pain to be minimal. Prayers for their sons and grandchildren. Prayers for Debbi for the strength to do all that lies ahead of her. Prayers for Rob that, God willing, will grant him as much time as possible. Prayers for those of us that love them so, will know what we can do to best serve them, help them and support them.
And to Deb and Rob - if you happen to see this. I love you. Splenda loves you. More than words can ever express. We are learning so much from you, and will never be able to reciprocate but know that we will do whatever you need or want us to do. You have our undying love, respect and loyalty.
May God grant them as much time as possible with peace, comfort and serenity.
(this was taken at last years Epic Christmas party)
I love Deb's email auto signature that contains this:
What Cancer Cannot do...
It cannot invade the soul
conquer the spirit
steal eternal life
I can only hope that if I am ever faced with a similar trial, that I will have half the strength of my dear friends. They are quite simply.......inspirational!