The Gift of Today – A Reflection by the Wife of a Cancer Patient
This journey is hallmarked by incredible highs and devastating lows. One moment you feel on top of the world, and the next moment the rug has been pulled out from beneath your feet. Even during good times, there is a constant fear that looms over you. Fear that in any moment, something huge and unexpected could be hurled your way. Nothing makes that fear more obvious than to witness the grief of patients and their families who walk the same path.
Last week, we learned of the passing of a fellow leukemia and stem cell transplant warrior. This marks the passing of another friend, gone too soon because of this terrible disease. Our hearts ache deeply for the loss of their family and friends. Our hearts also ache for the world, because it has lost some truly amazing and inspirational people far before their time.
I think the most difficult part of this journey is the contemplation and realization of the fragility of life. Brandon and I have been on this journey for over a year, but it wasn’t until recently that we could openly discuss the darkest and scariest parts of this experience. For the longest time, it was a huge elephant in the room that we both saw but never wanted to acknowledge. After witnessing the passing of many friends, that fear has become more evident than ever. As a spouse, I have had to think about losing the single most important person in my life, wondering how I could go on without him. As the person battling cancer, Brandon has had to face the fear of leaving this world too soon and leaving his loved ones behind. I can tell you that these fears are some of the most painful emotions that one could ever feel. I could never describe the pain of having an open conversation with your spouse about losing them to cancer. It’s raw, heartbreaking, and devastating. It’s the most painful emotion I have ever felt.
Brandon and I always do our best not to dwell in sad places. We have made it our mission to stay hopeful and positive throughout this journey, regardless of what comes our way. Sure, we have our moments where we get upset and cry, but we’re back to laughing and enjoying life in no time. Nothing is guaranteed, and we don’t want to waste our precious time together by dwelling in sadness and fear.
We choose to count our blessings and enjoy every moment. And when I say every moment, I mean every single moment. While thinking about death is scary, it makes your realize how precious your life really is. The things that I thought were important before Brandon’s diagnosis are so minuscule today. The only things that truly matter are the memories you make and the people who you share them with. I wish I had known these things before the love of my life was diagnosed with cancer. I have wasted so many precious moments worrying about so many insignificant things.
Although Brandon’s battle with leukemia has been hard, it has given us the opportunity to truly cherish our time together. Although we spend countless hours in the hospital, we are blessed to spend them together. Every hug is a little longer, every smile is a little bigger, and every kiss is a bit sweeter. We are so grateful for every second of every day that we have together. I am not thankful for cancer, but I am thankful for what it has taught me. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to love and cherish my husband as deeply as I do. I am thankful for the beautiful memories we have made during the hardest year of our lives, and for having the clarity to enjoy every single second of our lives together.
If I could wish one thing for you, it would be to enjoy the life you have. The truth is, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. It may be more obvious as a cancer patient, but it’s really no different for everyone else. We all go through life assuming that there will always be a tomorrow, but life is fragile and never guaranteed. So embrace the ones your love and enjoy the truly breathtaking and beautiful moments of life. Cherish the time you have and allow yourself to see the beauty in all of life’s blessings. Enjoy the gift of every single day.