I met Phyllis not too long after I got married 38 years ago. We went to the same women’s retreats a couple of times and went to a couple of the same churches. She said at one time that our paths would always cross. We eventually ended up working at the same place, Denver Seminary. Out of all our conversations, I remember one particular one, probably about 14 or 15 years ago. We were talking about our sons, hers dying of leukemia, mine dealing with blindness and autism. She said a surprising thing to me. She told me that she would sometimes look at her son Keith and think that at least she didn’t have to deal with what I was dealing with, the daily struggle and the knowledge that I would live with this for the rest of my life. I told her how surprised I was, because I had thought the same thing, that at least I didn’t have to deal with what she was dealing with. As long as there is life, there is hope.
The amazing thing, the miracle, is that Keith got better and lived a normal life for the past seven years. He then was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. When I heard that the first time, it was a true WTF moment. Talk about not fair. Keith had already had his “bad thing” and it feels like it should have inoculated him and his family from anything else bad happening. But we know that life isn’t like that.
Keith lost his battle with cancer on September 21. And I think about Phyllis, and I think about my son who even now I can hear him playing with his Legos in his room. I still think I have the better deal. And I’ll give Josh an extra hard hug tonight when I put him to bed.
I’m not Catholic but sometimes I have prayed the Rosary, and I often say the Ave Maria, because I feel a connection with Mary the Mother of Jesus. She knew what it meant to watch her Son suffer. I know the same. So does Phyllis. And so I offer the prayer of intercession on behalf of Phyllis and of Keith’s family.
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
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