Letter for a friend - Before I Close My Eyes For The Last Time By John Marion Francis
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
A request from a friend’s wife who decided to stop her chemo therapy…
Chapter 1 – Who am I?
My name is Mary Beth Waters.I have stage three cancer and this is my story…
My husband Barry and I held hands as we waited for Doctor Pace in his office.It’s my third follow up in two weeks.I’ve been on chemo for my cancer for the past three years.The treatments have been working, but a couple of weeks ago while making breakfast I felt dizzy and collapsed to the floor.Barry found me and rushed me to the emergency trauma center.
Barry and I knew that the treatments were my last hope for a few more years. Barry took early retirement and we have been traveling across country in our RV (something we’ve always wanted to do when we retired), seeing America, our kids (we have three) and the grand kids (there’s four of them).We have been blessed to have this time together.We have a cruise planned for Paris.
“What do you think Barry, do you think the result will be positive?“ I asked Barry looking at our hands then back up at him.
“All we can do honey is pray for more time. We’ll soon know shortly.Let’s not worry ourselves with guessing.” He said trying to hold back the small tears in his eyes.Barry is a good, strong and proud man.He worked for Allen Steel for thirty-nine years.He’s as good as they come in my world.
Doctor Pace came in with my records tucked under his arms.He looked at both of us, closed the door and sat at his desk.
“Well” he started flipping open my chart turning it around towards us… “I don’t have good news.The cancer is back and spreading.” He said in a low shallow voice trying to tell us the bad news as delicately as he could.
“Well doc, it’s nothing we haven’t been preparing for over the past three years.” Said Barry threading his fingers between mine then continued… “How much time we got?”
Doctor Pace pulled back my chart, flipped through some of the pages then looked at both of us.
“About six weeks. I’m so sorry.The chemo was working for a while but see on this chart where the line turns upward.” He said pointing and tracing the red line then stopped on one of the dots. “This is where it started back up again and the reason why you have been feeling dizzy off and on Mary.”
I just nodded my head.I suspected the cancer was back but didn’t think it would have spread so quickly.I looked at Barry.
“Well honey, let’s load up the RV and hit the road.” I said with a smile picking up my purse and sweater off the floor.
“We can try chemo again.” Said Doctor Pace looking at both of us with hopeful eyes.
“It’s okay Doctor Pace, we’ll keep you posted on how I’m feeling.” I said knowing that I didn’t want to go through any more days and nights of the horrific effects of the chemo treatments.I just couldn’t take it anymore and Barry understood.
He has been with me to every treatment.But we both decided that if the cancer came back that chemo was not going to be an option.We left the cancer center and drove to our favorite restaurant for dinner.LuLu’s Stake & Chop House is where we met and Barry proposed.The owners Charlene and Charles Richman are very good friends of ours.Their only son, Charles Jr. is an engineer and part time author of suspense novels.He grew up with our kids and went to the same college.I never get tired of eat here.
Chapter 2 – “Barry, I think I need to go to the hospital”
Nothing can prepare you for deaths knock on the door.It has been three weeks since Doctor Pace’s diagnosis.Barry and I had been on the road the entire time but the dizzy spells and passing out was becoming more frequent so we came home.A few days later while I was working in my flower beds I passed out again.This time Barry couldn’t revive me.He called 911 and they rushed me to the cancer center and paged Doctor Pace.
Barry stood and looked at Doctor Pace as he watched him come down the hallway from the operating room.
“How is she doc? She gonna be okay?Please tell me she’s gonna be okay.”
“Barry” Doctor Pace started… “I’m so sorry, she didn’t make it.We tried everything, but you know she signed a DNR Order.”Barry looked down and began to cry.
“Yeah, I, I know doc.It’s what she wanted and I respect that.I know you and your team of doctors tried everything.Thank you. Thank so much” Said Barry shaking Doctor Pace’s hand wiping away the tears with the back of his other one.
“Take as long as you like in my office Barry.” Doctor Pace offered.
“Thanks, but I want to see her doc.I just got have closure.”
“I understand Barry.I walk you down.”
The room was quite.The machines were shut off and not blinking anymore.Mary laid quietly with a clean sheet draped over her.
“I wanted her to look as best as she could.” Said a nurse holding the door open.
“Thank you Wanda.” Said Barry standing for a moment before going into the room.
“I’ll just be out side, you take as long as you like.” The Wanda said.Barry shook his head then slowly walked up to Mary.
“I’m so sorry honey.We knew this day would come.I wish it were me and not you.I love you now and forever.There is no else for me but you sweetheart, only you. I love you with all my heart.”Barry sat next to her and held her hand until the nurse came for him.
“I’m sorry Barry, but it’s time.” Said the Wanda putting her arm around Barry.
“Okay.She was good woman you know.”
“I know.I’ve been with her at all of her treatments and we became good friends.”
“Thank you Wanda for everything.I really appreciate everything you done for her.”
“She lived a good life Barry.”
“Yes in deed she did.”
Chapter 3 – Always Remember Me
It’s three o’clock in the afternoon on a sunny Thursday.Our family and friends were arriving for Mary’s wake.I picked flowers from Mary’s garden and put them in different color vase’s throughout the house just like she always had done.Charlene and Charles Richman catered the food and drinks.Doctor Pace and his staff came too.All of our children and grand kids filled the house with sounds of the past and the present generations.It was wonderful seeing all the people that loved her so much.Charles Jr. came up to me and handed me an envelope.
“What’s this?” I asked him.
“It’s from Mary.” He said
“Yeah, one day when I was visiting her at the hospital she asked me to write you a letter for her.She was took weak to hold a pen and paper, but knew what she would have written if she could, so she told me the things she wanted to say and asked me to write it for her.”
Barry didn’t know what say.He just looked at it for a while.
“Thank you Charlie, thank you so much for doing this for her.”
“Sure thing Barry, I wished I could have done more for her.”
“Trust what I tell you Charlie, this was very important to her to entrust you with and she sought out you.”
“I hope I wrote it as if she was writing it.”
“I have no doubt that you did. If you don’t mind, I’ll go read now.”
“Sure, sure Barry, I understand.”
I told everyone that I would be back in a little while.I walked to her garden and sat on the twig chair that he made for her.It was her favorite spot in the garden.I opened the envelop and began to read it…
* * * * * *
My dearest sweetheart,
Remember the pinky finger promise we made to each other three years ago? You promised me that you would move on and continue to live your life when I am gone? Sweetheart, I need you to keep that promise now more than ever. I wanted you to have my words in this letter to keep with you always before the last time I close my eyes after seeing you.
There are a few things I want you to do for me after I am gone… It’s my little bucket of wishes.
Feed the birds for me every day. The cup that I use is out in the garage next to the bag of feed that I keep near the side door. I know that mother nature provides for them with plenty of food, but every morning since we bought the house they gather to greet me by the mail box. In the spring they bring their young, so you’ll you need to put out an extra cup and a half.
I put the boxes for my clothes, shoes and perfumes in the back of the closet with labels on them for Holly Trinity Catholic Church. Ask for Sister Inskeep. She’ll make sure they get to the professional women’s group that meets twice a month. I have some very nice things that will make them all look their best and help them get good jobs.
The Paris cruise that we planned for April… I want you to go and see it for me. I’ll be with you. I know the doctors said that I would have more time but now we know that I am have run out and I won’t be able to go with you. I am so sorry. I am so very sorry.
Every month I want you to send a check to The Bark & Purr no kill shelter where we got Willow and Sam. Donate it in both our names. My trust will make sure that the donations never stop for many years to come. Their years of unconditional love and devotion can never be replaced or compared. But this will make sure that the love that saved them will never die nor be forgotten.
Thank you for always being by my side when I awake. I will miss your hands in mine and your swollen eyes filled with tears of hope that today is not the good bye day. You are such a good man to me. I don’t know of anyone that would have loved me as much as you have. Even on the days when I didn’t want to wear my wig, you smiled and pick out a perfect scarf and held me in your arms and told me how beautiful I look to you.
I’ll always cherish the days when I feel your gentle push behind me in the wheelchair taking me to dinner at the hospital cafeteria and always making sure that “our table” had a table cloth, two lit candles, flowers, my mothers silverware, and your hand scribble “reservations for two” folded card. And on the days when I am having “a bad day” you served me the best, sweetest apple sauce.
I want to be dressed in my purple Donna Karan you got me last Christmas, mothers pearl necklace and earrings. I want yellow roses all around me. Remember on our first date you gave yellow roses? And when you proposed, you gave me yellow roses. I want the flowers that symbolizes to the world that I was your yellow rose to embrace me along with your spirit.
Our love has been put through many tests over the past three year’s sweetheart. But now I have to say goodbye in the little time I have left with you. Know that I love you with the biggest heart in the world and with everything that I have. My spirit will love you now and forever. Use the strength you have now to let me go, be the strength you need to love someone else. Use the water in my tears to grow a new love in someone else to love you. I want that for you now more than ever.
You have been my sunrises and sunsets, my beaches and the shores. The waves of time are not washing away our footsteps that we now leave behind. I still see them now leading me back to your spirit that is waiting for me in the sky. I see your hands reaching for mine and mine to yours. The love we have for each other was blessed on our wedding day when I bonded my life to you. You are living proof of that bond. You are my gift from God twice given and twice earned...
I love you. I love you. I love you…
When I read this letter back to her to make sure I captured every feeling she wanted conveyed, she nodded, smile and said “Job well done. It’s exactly what I wanted to say and only you knew how to find the words”.
She passed away four days after this letter. She wanted me to post it in honor of all the women that are diagnosed with cancer. It is the hardest pages of words that I have ever written. Please support your local and Susan G. Koleman cancer drives.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful letter. Your words allowed her say goodbye to the life and the man she loved, and captured all the memories and emotions that made that farewell so difficult.. so heartbreaking.