Some of you may know this story, many of you do not… When Arielle moved the the UK in 2009, she met and fell in love with a young man named Carl. I remember getting a call, while Nick and I were still living in the US, and listening, as she described him to me, I heard; “He’s cute, tall, blond and oh, he only has one leg… He lost the other leg to cancer.”
The words came out of her mouth as easy as that… No hesitation, not a whisper of fear or concern, just that matter of fact.
I did not receive this news with the same level of indifference as it was conveyed. Although, it does need to be noted that I immediately felt very proud of Arielle! Somewhere between being my “child” and becoming this “woman,” she apparently shed her adolescent prejudices against people who were “different” from her and she had stopped “giving a damn” about what other people thought! Good on her… but cancer really?
I was still struggling with the death of my brother, to Pancreatic Cancer, two years before and the fact that cancer had taken my Mom as well, so I wasn’t too keen about my 26 year old daughter falling for someone who had had cancer, even if he was in “remission.”
The first several months of this relationship were good and each week I heard more and more about Carl. Nick and I moved to the UK in May of 2010 and finally got to meet him. He was a nice guy; kind of quiet, reserved, but cute and blond as nonetheless. I let my guard down and allowed myself to exhale.
In July or August of 2010, Carl received the news that his cancer had returned… we were, needless to say, devastated. As summer turned to fall, things became worse. Carl was in and out of the hospital and Arielle was beside his side every single step of the way. She’d work all day and then take the train to London and sit with him for several hours before getting back on the train for the hour and a half ride home. When he was at home, she catered to his every need. When he was too weak to take care of himself, she bathed him, gave him his meds, drove him to doctor’s appointments and chemo treatments; and reassured him that everything would be okay. I mean it had to be okay, right?
After several really bad weeks in the hospital, with Arielle and his family, by his side… Carl passed away. It was December 23, 2010.
I tell this story only because I know, that Arielle is painfully aware what its like on “this side of the bed.” She hears what people aren’t sayings. She feels our fear and concern even though we try so hard to hide it. She knows what it like to see the person you love thin, bald, scared and vulnerable. She understands what “putting on a brave face” is and now, she realizes, all too well what Carl really went through and how he “felt.”
You need to know however, that through this sadness came happiness!
Many months later Arielle and one of Carl’s friends, became friends. They consoled each and took solace in each other’s company. Somehow they let their hearts, let go of Carl and they found each other.
Richard (Rich) is cute, kind, lovely, tolerant of Arielle’s brash American personality, funny, smart, compassionate and in the last month he has become Arielle’s “Arielle.” He is by her side, every step of the way with his chin up, and a brave, positive attitude! And I know he will care for her and love her even when she’s bald and even more cranky than usual.
Arielle’s story will, thank God, have a much different ending, but isn’t it ironic how life keeps giving you the same lesson over and over until you learn it. In my case, I believe life is trying to tell me to love and cherish my family and friends every minute of every day and never, ever take them for granted! I try my best to honor that lesson.