This is a hard post to write. Last weekend I had a joyous Thanksgiving with my very large family.
The next morning, I joined another family to mourn and celebrate an exceptional woman. Her name was Peggy and she died at age 66 from ovarian cancer.
Peggy and I served on the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, but I didn’t know her well. In March, I was lucky to hear her tell her story. Her talk was deeply moving and I will never forget it and our conversation after she spoke. (Read the blog post inspired by our March meeting here.)
What we shared that day was all about cancer. That’s why we were there. But even though Peggy was dying, as her family and friends made clear, she was always much more than her cancer.
Peggy lived the last five and a half years of her life as she had always lived, with grace, courage, commitment and strength. She was an inspiring, warm, happy, optimistic and giving person. She never complained and she treasured each moment with her husband of 44 years, their three children and son-in-law, and her family and friends. She traveled, served the community, worked and enjoyed life’s pleasures.
Peggy was a human being facing dying, loneliness, denial and long goodbyes. But, her hope wasn’t invested in “beating cancer.” It was invested in living “the Perfect Moment” while she was here. Each person who spoke during her service told of at least one Perfect Moment they had shared with Peggy. As I listened, I realized my life was full of Perfect Moments too. Hadn’t I just spent an entire day with 27 of my most favorite people in the world celebrating Thanksgiving?
In how she lived and faced dying, Peggy’s example will be an inspiration to me always.
Survival > Existence,