Joy and Beauty

I recently had the privilege to visit my friend who has breast cancer. She is in the starting phase of rigorous chemotherapy sessions on a regular basis. My mind has trouble wrapping itself around the idea that a) my sweet friend who is the kindest soul in the world would have this trial b)someone I actually know has breast cancer c)she is so young to have something so terrible to face, isn't this an older ladies' issue?

Of course, cancer (as with many trials such as tumors, etc.) knows no discrimination.

As we arrived at her home I was struck by her beauty. They say pregnant women glow, I have not seen that very often. My friend with breast cancer, she was glowing a beauty I want to try to explain. She was in the midst of a good week, not as tired as the past two. It's my understanding when chemo hits her, it hits hard and she gets very tired. On this day when I arrived she was so happy. Her hat hid some of it initially, but once she took it off her shaved head was revealed. She worried it would scare my children. It did not.

When I looked at my friend and her long, curling eye lashes it was as if they stretched for miles. Her skin tones blended evenly from her face to the rest of her head,  a natural blend no tanning effort could try to replicate. Some of her soft stubble was growing back, which looked to me like the kind of fresh life you see in the spring when the buds of flowers make their appearance on stark branches. She was comfortable with her perfectly shaped bald head. She was confident in it. She was smiling. As she moved about her kitchen I couldn't help but notice the grace of her long neck. She was like a gorgous swan. She was truly grateful, most of all, for the small amount of energy she had to attend to simple tasks such as preparing salad and playing hide and seek with the little children buzzing around. She was eating up life with each moment with a kind of joy I rarely appreciate with such minute tasks. She spoke of the bounding happiness that accompanied a great day in contrast to the slow, sleepy days when the medicine killing her cancer slows her down. She spoke of the true understanding gleaned in the thought only through knowing hard times will we appreciate the good. Her words were more eloquent than this, but the way she said it zapped in me a little glimmer of her beauty that was truly radiating from within, as well.

A heavy sadness filled me, despite her beauty and energy; when we sat for dinner. I queried her on the long road ahead. It is paved with hard medical procedures that will be far more challenging to overcome than shaving her hair off and weariness. It seemed unfair to sit with my hair in a bun and no appointments of my own to face. I could not lift her burdens or lighten a single one of them in ways I wished I could. I can only love her, learn from her, and appreciate life more sweetly.