Occasionally we meet someone with whom we immediately connect, as if they have always been a part of our lives. Although most of the people I have befriended since moving to my house now seem to have been in my life for more than the year I have known them, one woman in particular was in my heart from the first day we met.

We have a bit of a language problem since English is not her first language, but if we miss a word or two here and there, or even a whole sentence, it doesn’t matter. Only the connection matters. And if words fail, there is the universal language of smiles and hugs.

I hadn’t seen her for a while, so when she and her husband stopped by yesterday to see me, I was delighted.

Until I found out what prompted the visit — they wanted to let me know she’s starting chemo.

This woman, so lovely, lively, charming, always smiling, always kind and caring, has been battling cancer for the past couple of years, and was about to begin a more aggressive treatment. My heart broke at the thought of the pain coming into her life — and her husband’s.

I wanted to scream, “No, no, no.” Bad things are not supposed to happen in this shining new life of mine. But this is not my struggle; it is theirs. All I could do was offer a couple of feeble words.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s life,” he responded. Then he added, as if trying to convince both of us, “This is a good thing. It means she can now get better.”

Even with the news shadowing the visit, it was great seeing them. She loved my house and said if she needed to be with someone when her husband was at work, she’d come stay with me. I hope she does. This feels like a healing place. It’s helped me heal. Maybe it will help her heal, too.

There’s no real ending to this blog. No moral, no hook, no lesson to be learned, nothing to turn it into more than it is — a glimpse at a bittersweet moment of life.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

9 Responses to “Bittersweet”

  1. Judy Galyon Says:

    Knowing that you can be there for her is a big help. I know that chemo can be rough. I couldn’t have made it if it weren’t for my support team!

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I’m glad they stopped by to let you know. You’re part of her healing.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Praying chemo goes well and she gets to live several more years full of happiness and good memories.

  4. LMH Says:

    I love this piece Pat, particularly your ending for its truth

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: