In his email that accompanied this week’s guest column, our friend Paul Curran apologized how this sad entry includes just two photos, at top and bottom, because of its sad tenor. Indeed, it is a story steeped in sorrow about a friend’s family hardship that touched Paul’s life this week. As always, Paul tells it simply, with heart and soul. No extra photos needed. Please sit down and read.
Welcome to the weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul, I’ll be your barista today and I’m happy to be here at Mark Bialczak’s Little Bitty in Syracuse, New York. Please come in and go through to the living room. Mark, his wife Karen and their pooch Ellie B, have prepared a nice, air-conditioned, comfy place for us so I can tend to your needs for a cuppa, and sweets. The weather this morning is sunny and hot with a high just over 90 F. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our worldwide readership and adult beverages for those who wish something stronger. We can relax with a cuppa in the air-conditioning while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. Ellie likes to be patted, so please indulge her when she greets you. How has your week been? Have a piece of cake (or any of the sweets on the next table) – electronic sweets are all calorie-free!
Web site: http://www.thegreenwichlondon.com/restaurant/afternoon-teas
There are times and occurrences in our lives when even if we are not close, they have a huge impact. One such event occurred in my life this week. My friend Frank, who comes to visit each evening for a coffee and a chat, has often mentioned a young niece of his named Lexi. Lexi was 8 years old and she was totally engaged in life, belonging to numerous groups – including Girl Guides – having a positive and playful presence, cheering people up wherever she went. Lexi did well in school and had many friends who cherished her friendship.
Late last week when Frank and I were talking, Frank mentioned that Lexi had a hard lump in her abdomen that had developed quickly. Having met and beat the Big C, I cringed – fast-developing lumps are never good news. Last weekend I saw Frank and I asked about Lexi. He seemed sad and said that she had gone to the doctor Friday and he had sent her immediately to CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) here in Ottawa. He didn’t have any more news. Then Sunday we chatted and he said that Lexi had been moved to the Children’s Hospital in Toronto – one of the best in the world and THE best in Canada. All the family had gone to Toronto to be with her.
Monday Frank said that Lexi had been diagnosed with a form of Fibroblastic Leukemia. He said that it had metastasized and was at stage 2. I winced and explained that any cancer I knew of that had metastasized was at least stage 3 and likely stage 4. Frank asked how many stages there were and I explained there were only 4 and 4 was terminal. I wondered out loud at how this young vibrant child now had God-only-knew how many weeks or months to suffer, with the pain increasing daily. I expressed my sadness at the suffering that was all that was left in her life until her death.
Tuesday Frank dropped by to say that the family had moved to Ronald McDonald House at the Toronto hospital (about 250 miles from Ottawa). They were being treated extremely well and Lexi was undergoing tests. The extended family had landed in Toronto to provide support – Mothers in law, grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc. The doctors had relabeled the cancer as Stage 4. There was great discussion about whether or how to address the discussion of death with Lexi. I shrugged and said I supposed it depended on how much she knew about it, what she had for faith, what she currently understood. No timeline was given by the doctors. All visitors were instructed to be positive and upbeat when in Lexi’s presence.
Wednesday, the funeral for the interment of the ashes of a beloved aunt was put on hold indefinitely as the family focused on Lexi. More tests were being done and the results were not good. There were multiple tumors throughout her abdomen. The doctors were beginning to slowly ease into the news that there would be no treatment other than palliative care.
Thursday evening, while being prepped for further tests, Lexi suffered three seizures in a row and died within minutes – six days after entering the hospital and with only 8 years of life lived.
Between the tears of loss there was a sense of decisions made above the human level to make this short and pain-free. There was no record in medical science of anyone surviving a cancer as advanced and aggressive as Lexi’s – just a matter of how long the suffering would go on. And her sweet soul was not to suffer.
The Girl Guides have organized a large event for Canada Day when they will be selling lemonade in Ottawa all along the parade route and in conjunction with various events and concerts. They will be labeled for Lexi and all the proceeds will go to cancer research.
There are days when I have a pity party for my own health concerns but I am virtually pain-free and my ailments will not affect my length of life by much if at all. When I think of Lexi’s young life and her short fight, I feel childish and silly complaining about my problems. She was so brave and innocent.
Have you had any eye-opening losses that have changed your attitude? I suppose many have. The only relief I can feel is by knowing she is with God and her soul continues even as we are burying her body.
That’s about all we have room for this week folks, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and pat Ellie B. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Mark, Karen and Ellie B for their invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Mark’s other posts while you’re here. Have a great week.
Web Site: http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo/girl-guides.html