Words of comfort sometimes hard to find

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

I didn’t know what to say.

I was visiting with a friend, someone I’ve known for over 30years, and I was trying to chit-chat.

It’s been hot.

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I’ve been busy.

I’m fine. My family’s fine.

Mention anything, but ignore the obvious.

My friend is dying.

We both know; it’s not a secret. She was diagnosed with breastcancer about seven years ago and has fought this vicious killertooth-and-nail ever since.

Surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Stem cell transplant.Concoctions of various chemicals in hopes that something wouldwork. It didn’t.

Now it’s a fight she can’t win. This disease has literallyravaged her, and the end is near.

I didn’t know what to say.

Her youngest daughter was there. She’s 11 and has endured somuch. For most of her young life she’s watched her mother battlecancer. A few weeks ago, her father died suddenly. Within a matterof weeks this innocent child will lose both her parents.

I didn’t know what to say.

My friend’s mother was there, too, tending to her in that lovingway that is unique to moms.

They say parents shouldn’t have to bury their children, that itshould be the other way around. But, this mother of three will soonbury her only daughter. She’s already lost a son. What words ofcomfort or encouragement could I offer?

I didn’t know what to say.

It had been six weeks since I last visited with my friend. Shetold me then the doctors said she had about two months left tolive.

I pretended not to hear.

I didn’t know what to say.

Then, she still had some fight left in her. The following weekshe took another chemotherapy treatment, but there was no miraclein the medicine.

Then, she would still smile. Then, she still had some hope.

Now, it hurts to breathe.

It’s uncomfortable to sit up or to lie down.

Her left arm is swollen three times its normal size.

A tumor on her neck has, literally, eaten part of her away.

She speaks in a raspy whisper.

Her legs look like match sticks.

She must be in excruciating pain, but I didn’t hear hercomplain.

I didn’t stay long, and now, I wish that I had. Now I realizethat we will probably not get to visit again.

As I started to leave, she tried to get up off the bed to walkme out, but she wasn’t able.

I bent down and hugged her, and I knew exactly what to say.

I love you.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602;or send email to news@dailyleader.com.