To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 7: Rembering Rose

Rose and I outside the stem cell out-patient unit in January of this year.
I know death comes to all of us, we all have our "time"; but sometimes it all just seems so unfair.  That's how I feel about the passing of my friend, Rose; and I am determined that, even in this small way, I will let people know how wonderful she was.

Rose and I met in the middle of a battlefield - the stem cell unit of the Cancer Treatment Center of America.  A violinist came in to play for the patients and was taking requests - we both asked to hear "La Vie en Rose".  Perfect. :-)

Nearly every day after, Rose and I would talk.  We would talk about music, family, and her career as a teacher (which she absolutely loved); but mostly we talked about God and her plans for her life after she was well.  See, Rose had big plans.  Big, beautiful, unselfish plans to use her pain and fear and struggle to help others; so, hopefully they'd never be in the position she had found herself in - misdiagnosed at one of the most prestigious East Coast cancer centers ending up at the CTCA where they were still willing to try to fight with her till the bitter end.

Even though Rose's situation was considered "bleak" by most, she never gave up hope.  She also never stopped scheming about helping others.  Some of her ideas were "small" - like the donation of a rocking chair for those who wanted to partake of its comforts.  Others were a bit larger - like wanting to start an organization that would help seniors citizens with cancer sort out their treatment options and answer insurance questions.

Most days, I would pass by Rose's open door to see her with her iPod earphones in dancing to some silent melody in her room.  She smiled every time I walked up into her room (right next to mom's)...even when she was in great physical pain and missing her family back in Maine.  In fact, through all the ups and downs Rose endured those 3 months I knew her, I only saw her cry once - the day the doctors told her that she had stopped responding to chemotherapy and that they were advising her to go home to her family.  Naturally, I think anyone would be devastated to hear that news; but when I spoke to her, she wasn't crying for herself, but rather for her three children (two sons and a daughter) and her husband who was also being treated for cancer at the CTCA.

Since Rose left the center here, my whole family thought of and prayed for her daily.  I was believing for a miracle for her, because I just could not imagine such a wonderful person losing her battle with such an unfair and cruel disease.

But Heaven was calling Rose home.  And three days after she left this world, her husband followed her.  Unspeakable tragedy.  I feel immense sadness for their children and families.

I know I met and became friends with Rose for a reason; God is always working all around us.  So, I will cherish the time I had with my friend, Rose; and I will try to live up to her wonderfully compassionate and selfless heart.

I've heard it said that you shouldn't pity the dead, but rather the living...those left behind.  So, I refuse to pity Rose.  I know she is no longer in pain.  She is probably dancing to her favorite songs right with her husband now, looking down on the tears spilling from my eyes right now thinking, "Oh silly Mandie...if only you knew."

If only I knew...

But what I know is that Rose was a special person, and I miss my friend.  But I also know that I'll get to see her again...and we will dance together on streets of gold.

All the Love in the World,

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