At the intersection of bitter and sweet & Me
Posted May 1, 2011on:
At the funeral Saturday of Kathy Greene, I recognized faces I had not seen for a long time.
But that is what a funeral is – an intersection of lives – often bitter and sweet. We are happy to see old friends again and then realize how we reconnected is clearly not a time of joy. At best it is bittersweet.
Kathy and I didn’t know each other well, but we intersected a couple of times in life. The first was when our daughters, Maggie and Emily, were in the La Crosse Girls Chorus. We shared rides for our girls and others to rehearsals. The girls also got together to play in elementary school.
We intersected again at an American Cancer Society program in fall 2009 called Look Good … Feel Better. She was at the same table as I was, learning how to use makeup and hats during chemotherapy.
A cancer program is not where you want to see old friends, but we did that day.
Kathy, who already had a couple of rounds of chemotherapy, talked about hats she had purchased that didn’t work for her. She offered to share them with me.
A week or so later, she called and brought some over. I tried on a bunch of them. Several became the hats I wore most often during those days.
As I told her daughter Emily before the funeral, a small gesture is sometimes huge. What Kathy did truly was huge for me. What one patient with cancer – even if it was a different kind as it was with Kathy – gives to another is belief in our abilities to keep on going when times are dark.
I didn’t see Kathy again until I ran into her at the Gundersen Lutheran Cancer Center a few months ago. I was there with another friend who was getting a tour of the center after getting a second opinion from an oncologist.
Kathy, who had an IV attached, said simply that she was going to have a couple more treatments and then they’d see how she was doing.
All last week when I walked by her house I thought about ringing the doorbell, but I never did. I always felt she was more private than me, which was a lame excuse.
And then I read she had died. I realized I missed my chance to return that kindness. Maybe it would have been huge for her, too.
Thank you, Kathy. You already are missed.