Saturday, August 14, 2010

Priorities

Jude's ex-classmate's daughter was recently diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. It's a highly survivable cancer, though no less distressing, and made even more heart-wrenching by the fact that the little girl is only four. We met her when we were home over Christmas last year and Jude and I had agreed then that we would love for Sophie to grow up to be just like her- lovable, articulate, affectionate, and just a delightful amount of spunk and sass. Apparently, she's lost little of that personality even though she's ill, which is just wonderful to know. Her mom and I don't know each other very well but I like her a lot and am inspired by many of the choices she's made as a mother. And now, through her daughter's treatment and recovery process, that respect has only deepened.

Jude asked me why I've become so concerned about their situation, seeing how we've only met a few times. And I think apart from the genuine sadness and empathy one feels for a fellow human being during difficult times, I feel so much for them also because I can only imagine what I'd do if Sophie became this sick. My heart already aches when she has a cold, what more if she comes down with a more serious illness? It also puts into perspective the kinds of things we want for our children. In a blog that she periodically updates to keep friends and family abreast of her daughter's progress, Jude's friend writes, "I live everyday with my little girl like it's the last day. Who cares whether her Chinese is good? Who cares whether she can count beyond 20? Suddenly everything doesn't seem quite as important anymore." With that line, I turned to Sophie (who was sitting next to me in her high chair munching on an animal cracker) and nuzzled her so tight I think she would have choked on her cracker...

We shouldn't have to wait till our children are sick to love them like it's our last day together; we shouldn't have to wait till a life-threatening illness attacks to remember the things in our lives that are important (or not). We have to love the people around us-- partners, children, parents, siblings, friends-- as if we have everything to lose. In more ways than one, life is too short to do otherwise.

For those of you who are the praying sort (and even those of you who are not), please help us say a short prayer for Jude's friend and her family- they need all the positive energy the universe can muster and every little good vibe helps. Thanks.

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