To the Editor,
It is very rare that we are fortunate to meet strangers that implant such an impression in our minds that over time, it moves into our hearts where it shall always remain for the rest of our lives. Yet It does happen. And it improves us greater than we could have imagined. It is that what we cherish about them. And we should thank them while we can.
It was when I was working my Hastings gig when I got to meet this couple that became regulars. The man was always jovial and interesting to talk to. His wife was shy at first but soon began to talk with a somewhat difficult to hear voice. I listened while she told me about why she spoke that way. She had cancer of her palate and wore a prosthetic nose and plate, a result of the surgery to stop the cancer. A cancer survivor myself with little in comparison physical deformity, I identified with her and soon we started telling each other war stories about treatments and such. We were in the same club. Never did she relate her pain or sorrow but was upbeat and genuine. After a while her disability disappeared to me and the beauty of her being is what I saw. Her courage to face her cancer and to go out as she was, ignoring the stares and whispers from those not knowing, became a wonder to me. I admired both her and and her husband for sticking by her and supporting her. They soon became good friends and I took great delight in seeing them.
As it goes, after that gig ended, we lost touch for a while. Then last year, the husband brought in his car for servicing. I was happy to see him and immediately asked about his wife. He related that the cancer had returned and they were having a hard time getting it treated. I'm told him how sorry I was and to extend my love his wife. I know she was staying strong and he was doing his best to comfort her. Like all who have cancer, I questioned why it came back with her and not with me. The guilt thing. Cancer is indiscriminate.
Last week I saw him again. I could tell by his composure that things were not good. He confided in me that he had do place her in a hospice. My heart was broken. We look into each eyes and shared the pain. I shook his hand and told him to thank her for giving me her acquaintance, her friendship and for showing so much courage and grace. A testament to the human condition.
I will not use their names as to afford them some privacy. But they know who they are. And I am grateful for knowing them. Please reach out to each other, regardless of condition or views or backgrounds. For in each of us there is a jewel waiting to be found. And cherished. I shall never forget this couple for what they gave me. Godspeed.
Alan Fox, Waxahachie