Monday, July 31, 2017



  1.    1.
       a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

       "the sense of community that organized religion can provide"
A dear friend of mine, David, used to say "you build community wherever you go".  He was a world traveler with fascinating experiences to share and valuable life lessons to teach.  He was brilliant and undeniably left an indelible mark on this world before Cancer took him in 2013.

This phrase has always stuck with me...yet until this week I never fully understood its impact and power.
I got word on Tuesday that another lifelong friend, Jes, was moved to Hospice after an all too long and difficult fight with Cancer.  It has finally taken its toll on her amazingly strong body and spirit.  I sat there in a daze trying to figure out what to do, how to help, why any of this was happening.  I felt lost and confused and full of dread for what was to come.
As I walked into Hospice that first day after getting the news, my anxiety was at an all time high.  Here I was in a beautiful, yet somber building, in an unfamiliar town, not knowing what to expect and definitely not wanting to be there in the first place.  As I stepped through the doors of her room, I was greeted by a room full of faces, both familiar and new.  Some of these people I had known for a lifetime yet hadn't seen in years, some I knew more superficially, but most I had never even met until that moment.  
As the hours and days have worn on, I have spent a LOT of time in that room with these people.  I have learned their names, their stories, who they "belong" to/with. I have slowly figured out their connections.  And they have learned mine.  Each of them has welcomed me in with (literal) open arms.  As the only "past" person there in a room full of blood relatives, family, and friends who live richly in her "present", I haven't once felt like an outsider.  Instead, I have come to count on these people for strength, updates, and support.  I look forward to seeing them again every day.  Hospice has since become a place of love and camaraderie, jokes and playfulness (as odd as that sounds).  I have found solace there in this group of people feeling the same feelings and walking the same path.  We each have our role to play - caregiver, meal planner, information sharer, medical expert, shift scheduler, comic relief...Our contributions are all different but each part makes up a whole.  Each of us is a piece in the puzzle of community that we have built around Jes, her family and each other
We are no longer strangers from different towns, backgrounds and times in Jes's life.  We are suddenly a COMMUNITY of friends, united by a common love for this amazing woman and a shared sadness for the journey we were traveling with her.  This amazing community she has built around her makes me both proud and sad.  I am so proud (and not surprised in the least) that Jes has this rich group of amazing people that love and adore her as much as I do.  However, I am sad that I didn't know many of them until now.  I am also immensely relieved to know that her husband and three wonderful boys will continue to have the love and support of these fabulous people to carry them through the next few weeks, months and years.
Shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer, I was talking online with Jes and wrote, "We'll get through this, my dear. You're not alone. Now is when all your years of being wonderful to everyone else will come back to provide strength and support for you!  Because you have earned all the love that we will now shower on you :)".  These words were genuine and sincere at the time yet somehow I never quite knew just HOW true and genuine they would become. 

Our journey together is not yet over, though the end does appear to draw near.  Please pray for peace for my dear Jes.   

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