Sunday, 19 January 2014

The hardest goodbye

I couldn't imagine how I'd feel if someone put a countdown on my remaining days in this life.  A very dear friend of mind is sadly losing her fight with secondary bowel cancer. D is one of the strongest women I've ever known, overcoming breast cancer several years ago. It was only during her yearly routine remission checkup last year that they found secondary masses in several hotspots around her body. D took this in her stride, bargaining with her treating team about the methods of treatment that would give her best quality of life, rather than prolong her days to a painful end. But now, despite everyone's best efforts and all the prayers in the world, D can not fight any harder or longer. 

D has over the years been very much like a mother to me. As a kid we moved from the city to the country and I met a girl in school. K and I became fast friends sharing many hobbies and relating over our parents messy relationships. We spent most afternoons at either softball, touch footy or swimming together, and weekends hanging out at her place petting their German shepherd puppy. We've been friends now for 17 years. I can't tell you how many hours of my pre-teen and teenage years were spent in D's lounge. I was never not welcomed with open arms. 

K and I have supported each other through so much during those 17 years; high school, year 12 exams, boyfriends, university, getting married and having babies. It is now my turn to support her through what will be her greatest challenge her, her mother's death. This isn't something either of us ever thought we'd have to do until we were much older and so were our parents. Tragically K and D don't have the luxury of waiting. And as I sit in the chair beside D's hospital bed watching K fuss over her, attend her every need my heart breaks. 

I feel so sad for the memories they'll never make together.  I feel so sad about the conversations that I'm sure have taken place in these last few months. Final farewells, the regaling of days past, the warm, firm embraces and the sharing of tears and fears. How does a mother say goodbye to her daughter?  How does one prepare for such an important and life-affirming conversation?  What parting words of wisdom can you use to bring comfort to the years she'll spend without you? 

My daughter is 12 weeks old and I tell her at least 20 times a day that I love her, that I am grateful for her, that I have big dreams for her life. From the day she was born I felt a completeness to my life; to my soul. I could not imagine the sheer pain it must cause knowing I'd have to say goodbye to her. My daughter is 12 weeks old and already I imagine her wedding day and holding her children in my arms. My heart aches knowing that D dreamed these things for herself and K as well. 

What can anyone say to either of them to offer solace?  What can I possibly offer K in the days, weeks and years to come that will comfort her in this darkest of times in her life? My heart is breaking for them both and yet I know what I'm feeling is only a minute fraction of the pain they are sharing. 

I will hold my daughter closer, whisper I love you's more frequently and say many prayers for D and K. And I will offer all that I have; my love, my support, my shoulder, my home because that is all I can do. 



  1. It's such a helpless feeling - perhaps the most helpless feeling in the world. You're doing all you can for them, though, because there really are no words for that kind of loss and that kind of grief.

    Much love to you, K, and D. You'll all be in my thoughts.