This is kind of a strange day for me. I have the highs of being with my grandsons and thinking about the 2nd anniversary of my kids tomorrow, but I’m also thinking about the loss of a dear friend one year ago tomorrow…a friend who fought a mighty battle against cancer and was a 20 year survivor. A friend whose life intersected with mine when I donated my bone marrow to him in December 1991.
So today I post a letter I never had the opportunity to send Matthew, but wish I had.
Your recent card and note touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. For 20 years you have so graciously continued to express your appreciation for my part in your recovery. Though I understand your feelings, I so often feel completely unworthy because what I did was easy, brief, and took no courage at all. What you, your family, and the City of Hope have been through has been difficult and challenging, a lifelong experience, and has taken great courage. You are the heroes, not me.
And you Matthew are the greatest hero of all!
You wrote “You have given me not only life, but the purpose and desire to keep living.” And yet, helping you Matthew has provided purpose to my own life as well.
I haven’t had to live with the day-to-day struggles you have experienced. I haven’t had to spend countless months in a hospital watching others get well while others passed away. I haven’t had to live a lifetime wondering if and when cancer would return. I haven’t had to overcome illness and find the strength to chart a new course and start again. I haven’t had to wonder what cancer was doing to my family who so lovingly put their lives on hold to care for me. I haven’t grown family-close to other survivors only to watch them finally succumb to the disease or complications of it over the next two decades. I haven’t had to find strength on a daily basis…just to be.
But you, Matthew, have done all these things and so much more. Your strength to overcome, your determination to get better, your will to survive, your ability to find humor amidst devastating circumstances, and your commitment of love to your family and friends inspire me. And because of you, I, too, am better.
Illness never defined you, Matthew; who you are defined you in this life. And the legacy you give us all is to live life fully, to live life gratefully, and to live life with much love.
I am forever grateful that our lives intersected December 4, 1991. I am a better person because of you. And I love you Matthew!