I have agreed to take part in a process that is going to be difficult. I knew it would be when I offered to do it. It is a two person journey and the difficult road is not just mine, but more importantly, my friend, Beth's, who will be leading the way.
In Dec., 2005, Beth's daughter, MK, was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor. I was living in Kansas at the time and felt totally helpless. Beth and her family - MK, son M and husband, D - were our neighbors in Ohio before we moved to KS. MK was at our house every morning to catch the bus with Big E. The two of them were quite close and they often played together after school. Big E even went to her b-day party, where I believe he was the only boy. Thankfully, MK was quite the tomboy and it was a pirate themed party. In June, 2006, at the age of ten, MK lost her battle with cancer. I flew to Ohio to attend her services and provide whatever support I could. I don't know if I helped, but I couldn't stay away.
Now that we are back in Ohio, Beth and I see each other on a regular basis. She is an inspiration. I don't know how she does it, but she tells me she "doesn't have a choice." I do understand that - she has a family and as she told me once "Cancer already took a part of me. I will not let it take anything else. Not my marriage, not my family. Nothing." She has started some wonderful programs in memory and in honor of MK. She is in the process of writing and hopefully publishing a book, which is where I come in. She wants to publish her personal journal she kept during MK's illness and after the loss of her beautiful daughter. I will be the one putting that journal onto "paper": ie, I am the typist. She will be recording her hand written journal entries and giving me the spoken words to type. I am so honored that she trusts me with this project. Honored to be able to hear her story, her experiences, her pain, not on paper, but in her very own "said out loud" words. In her voice with her emotions. What a privilege and a gift.
She called yesterday crying. She was surprised to find how reading those original entries stirred so many emotions, how much pain she still carries but is able to keep packed away most days. She wanted me to know that she is reading/recording between the tears and to let her know if it becomes too much for me or if I need a break. I told her I would keep the tissues close but that I would keep going. For her. For MK. I reminded her how proud I am of her and that I feel blessed she has asked me along for this emotional ride.
Early on, when we first started talking about this project, I did make her promise that if she was on Oprah when her book becomes a huge success, that she is required to take me with her. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that happens. Beth is an incredible woman, mom and wife.
I won't be sharing any personal details of her journal during this process. Until it is complete, I know this is a very private time for her. And though this isn't about me, I may have to share some of my experiences along the way, to keep my head clear and my thoughts focused.