Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Meeting Eileen Has Reminded Me To Be So Thankful For The Blessings

My husband and I ran into old friends while food shopping the other day. We had first met Eileen years ago after she married Bob who is a childhood friend of my husband. Bob and Ray grew up around the corner from each other, they went to grade school together, and they played basketball on the same church team in their teenage years, and in high school we all hung out in the same group. We didn't keep in close contact after we all got married, but we would occasionally be invited to the same parties or run into each other in the neighborhood. I always liked Eileen, she was a very down to earth person, very warm and welcoming, a gentle soul, and she had a great sense of humor. We got along very well, she was easy to like and when we saw each other we would compare notes on our kids and most times commiserate at how rotten life could be for us at times. They had a son close to the age of one of our sons, and they had a daughter too close in age to one of our girls. They had some problems with their son (drugs, no school, no job, children out of wedlock), problems that Ray and I could easily identify with as we had similar situations with some of our kids. And they had a very sad situation with their daughter when she was a teenager, she had a very rare form of cancer that only went into remission after an experimental drug was used on her. Thankfully, after years of battling that cancer their daughter won her health and has been cancer-free ever since. Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus at the age of ten and for the next few years she had to undergo three brain surgeries, so there was another painful situation that Ray & I and Bob & Eileen could relate to. Even through that heartbreak Eileen could find humor though, she'd be telling us a funny story about something stupid a nurse did or something inappropriate a doctor had said, and she'd have us all laughing. Eileen also cared for her mother for over fifteen years as Alzhiemer's robbed Eileen of the Mom she knew and loved. My Mom suffered with Alzheimer's the last seven years of her life, it brought me so much anguish to lose my Mom in that way. And so another connection, and more funny and heartbreaking stories to tell, Eileen was a rock.
Over the years we would exchange Christmas cards and keep each other up to date on what was happening in our families. One year Bob wrote to tell us that Eileen had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she had undergone surgery and chemo treatments, all the while taking care of her Mom. They were optimistic now that she was on the road to remission. Later we heard through mutual friends that the cancer was back and she was having treatments again. Still, later we ran into Bob and he said Eileen was doing much better.
A few days ago while food shopping we ran into Bob and stopped to talk awhile. I asked about Eileen and he just shook his head no. He said it's been a constant battle and the cancer had spread and now also went into some rare kind of cancer, they tried making a vaccine of her own bone marrow and that failed, but now they were trying a treatment with a donor (her sister is a match), he said Eileen seems stronger, and in fact she was there shopping with him. I turned around and saw Eileen walking towards us, she did look strong, and she did have the same bright smile on her face, but there was something so vulnerable about her. I asked her how she was and she said she was alright and went on to talk about her kids and grandkids, and she asked about ours. Then I asked her how she does it, and she said she didn't know, she was really tired and she felt like giving up, she said the only reason she was still trying and fighting was because "I promised my daughter I would try to live." I'll never forget those words. I asked her how her faith was and she said that was strong, she said she never goes anywhere without her Rosary in her pocket.
I felt so humbled. And I thought of all the things I take for granted. I thought about how I've been agonizing over something as silly as letting my hair go gray or dying it, and here's Eileen without any hair at all. I thought about Eileen, in typical fashion, saying to me that I must be so tired taking care of my grandson full-time while she doesn't even know if she'll be here to enjoy her grandchildren next year. She told me how over President's Day weekend they were able to have two of their five grandchildren only because Bob was home to care for them as she doesn't have the strength to do it on her own anymore.
And I thought about all the times Eileen and I would say that even with all the problems we had going on we still felt so Blessed, and we would remind each other to enjoy the good times that come between all the bad. We told each other that's what life was all about, enjoying the Blessings. Eileen is still enjoying the Blessings.
Meeting Eileen has reminded me to be so thankful for the Blessings.

1 comment:

  1. Many prayers are being said for Bob's Eileen.
    Trust in the Lord, He knows our needs.