Saturday June 7th is one of those perfect weather days; sunny, blue skies, warm with a little breeze. I want to savor every minute of the day as it turns into night. I decide we should enjoy cocktails at a restaurant with outdoor seating and a picturesque view. This is quite the challenge in suburbia.
It’s dinnertime and me and my bestie head up I295 to Carlucci’s Waterfront restaurant in Mt. Laurel. It’s quite crowded, no surprise, everyone wants to dine outdoors on an evening like this. With glasses of wine in hand, Joel and I find a spot on a comfy couch in the outdoor lounge. The seats provide a perfect serene view of Rancocas Creek.
Joel and the gentlemen sitting in the sofa next to us start chatting about the wonderful weather. Soon the conversation expands to work, kids, etc. The gentleman, in his 40’s, is out to dinner with his two teen boys, celebrating the older’s 17th birthday. He mentions his wife Michelle. She is nowhere in sight, we observe silently. She died last year of breast cancer. The gentleman barely gets the sentence out, without choking back tears. Joel and I nod in unison, and in unison offer our condolences for his family’s loss.
I feel completely guilty when Joel tells this stranger I’m ten years out from diagnosis. He smiles, offering us genuine congratulations. This makes me feel even more guilty. I squeeze Joel’s hand tighter. I’m alive and his wife is dead. Somehow it feels completely unfair that some of us with cancer live and some of us die. In the same moment, I’m overcome with heavy sadness and enormous gratitude. I encourage this man to have faith. Faith that his wife is in heaven, watching over him and his two sons everyday. He says he likes to believe that to be true. His buzzer goes off. Their dinner table is ready. We shake hands and say goodbye, offering a few more words of encouragement.
The sky darkens into night. Joel and I admire the moon and twinkling stars. I try to find which twinkle is my mom. And as I do this, I count my lucky stars for every day of my life. I’ve had a little more than 3,650 days since being diagnosed with cancer. And each one has been a blessing.
Moral: Be thankful for what you have, when it’s gone you’ll surely miss it.