Had she not been a patient of mine and had my eye not been trained to see the telltale insults that cancer leaves on a body, I never would have known that her life was anything but perfect.
There are people like that in the world. People who smile through the worst. People who bring light to others and who know how to appreciate every moment with a vitality most of us lack.
She was one of the special ones. A special person and a patient with whom I connected on a deeper level. I was there to help guide her, but she was there to teach me about gratitude, optimism, tenacity, acceptance, love, courage and happiness.
She was an inspiration and a joy to be around. How I hoped she would be one of the few to beat the odds of metastatic breast cancer. And it looked like she might because she never stopped planning for the future or living her life in the present.
Unlike other patients and friends of hers who closed off the world or shut down when things took a turn for the worse, she never lost her huge infectious smile, energy, positive attitude or sparkle in her eyes.
Except for the last few days, and even then there was no self pity, just strength and determination. She was dying, in pain and in and out of consciousness but still fighting to hold on until her last wishes were fulfilled. She wanted her 8 year old daughter to come and say goodbye to her so her daughter would have some closure and she wanted her month old son, born to a surrogate mother, to be circumcised in Jewish tradition.
And she fought with her body to hold on. She saw her daughter for the last time and as soon as her son was circumcised later that same day, she took her last breath and our world was left a little dimmer as the light and joy that was her was released from her pain.
My only comfort is that she left behind an amazing family. A husband no less special than she, a daughter, a son, a mother, 2 sisters and a brother who all loved her deeply and will make sure that her special light and her precious gifts are not forgotten.
Every person who had the privilege of knowing her will never forget her, because although her years on this earth were short, she lived them to the fullest in a way many of us will never succeed in doing.
In these heartbreaking days in Israel, as we suffer our own private losses as well as national losses we choose to make our own, I think about my patient and the 29 young Israeli soldiers who died in the prime of their lives while fighting terrorists. Their deaths are more than just a grave loss. I think that their deaths are meant to be a “living” reminder for me. A reminder that it’s not how long you live, but rather how you live those years that you are given.
May all the families who are mourning the unfathomable loss of their loved ones somehow find the strength to continue to live life in the way they did.
And now I’m asking you all, how well are you living your years?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Susie Newday in Israel. You can find her on her blog New Day New Lesson.Photo credit to author.