Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Feeling Sorrow Over a Dog He Hated

A friend recently experienced one of the most harrowing tragedies imaginable. Her little boy, under the age of two, drowned. I don't think anyone can hear this and not feel deeply over such a loss. But it's even more tragic when you hear how precious this boy was or understand how incredibly kind his parents are.

I first met Tasha last year. After discovering I'm a local author, she kindly selected my book for the large group's monthly read. Each member purchased a copy of TWO MORE YEARS and read it over a short period. What made this miraculous to me is that unbeknownst to Tasha, I'd been considering ending treatments at this time. My cancer journey had become even harder. And although this would mean death, I didn’t know if I could take any more. 


Doctors have said that this road will end at one of two places. Either they will tell me they've run out of options, or I will no longer feel strong enough to continue pursuing treatments. 


A layman with no cancer experience called me during a terrible moment of weakness. He explained that if he were me, he'd be strong enough to accept death instead of getting infusions. "Death is natural," he said.


We'd worked together years ago, and I listened, not wanting to seem disrespectful. Then the conversation took a dark turn. "People spent so much on healthcare. But they incur 90% of their total medical bills in the last year of their life. They're thinking about quantity, not quality." He sighed. "Do you have quality, Elisa?"


"Yes," I said. "Right now, I do."


"Really…" He paused for effect. "Well, other people—not you—cost the general public so much money. When they continue getting unnecessary healthcare, they become a drain on society."


I cried after the call, but ironically, that's when Tasha contacted me. "We all read your book. We love it—and all of us want to meet you."


That book club meeting changed my entire outlook. Everyone there built me up, and I found myself praying for them, hoping their kindness would come full circle. Those ladies made me feel like I mattered. And that I should keep fighting because I might still add something good for my children, Mike, and even a few people outside of my little world.


Anyway, months passed, and I attended Tasha's son's funeral. Before she walked into the main room, the irony of the moment tore me in two: she'd given me one of the best days of my life, and there I stood… witnessing one of the worst days of hers.


"I want to tell you about a dog," a speaker said shortly after the service began. "I hated that dog because it was annoying." My brows furrowed as I wondered where this speech could possibly go. Everyone else must've thought the same thing because the room got so quiet, I heard the second-hand ticking on a nearby clock. 


"I got a call that this dog had been hit by a car," he said.


Tick. Tick. Tick.


"I ran out to see if the dog was okay, but it had already passed away. And… I felt so horrendous. Even though I didn't like that dog, this was a huge tragedy. Plus, I knew so many other people had gotten joy from him." He sighed. "Just to see him there, lifeless. Without his spirit. That was so… so terrible. I've been thinking about that for days. And now, hearing about James… To think that I'd felt so much sorrow over a dog—one that I didn't even like. Imagine now how tragic it is to know what happened to such a precious little boy."


Of course, this made me think about my little boy, Zeke, who died at two and a half months. I had to take him off of life support. And it took years to recover emotionally, even though I carry scars that will remain with me for the rest of my life. That being said, this is nothing compared to what my friend, Tasha, experienced. I can't imagine loving a child for almost two years and then tragically losing them. Yet, both situations might make you wonder, "Why? Why didn't they live?"


But the speaker did say something that profoundly impacted me. When he talked about the dog that had died, I realized: That dog's value was bringing joy to people. With everything I've endured, I've wondered, "What do I add to the world?" Other than telling people to see their dermatologist so they won't go through what I have… 


But this resonated with me because I want my value to be what made that dog special. I want my worth to be what my baby's value was. What my friend's little boy's value was… I desperately want to bring people joy. So that when I'm gone, people will say, "She brought people joy." That's what I want my value to be. 


It's pretty simple.


A couple of people approached me at the funeral and said they felt sorry for how sick I've been. Instead, it struck me how lucky I am. I'm so grateful my kids and my husband are healthy and happy. I can't believe that I'd ever let an insensitive previous coworker's words have weight in my life. And, instead of wanting to ever give up, I simply wanted to go out, hug each of my children, and tell them how much I love them.


Yes, terminal cancer is not a walk through a candy shop, but at least I'm still here. I am trying to become stronger every day.


If you think about praying for my friend and her family, they would appreciate it. They're still trying to raise funds to cover funeral expenses, even after two months. If you feel it on your heart to donate to the Chambers family, please visit the following link:


God Bless You!

No comments:

Post a Comment