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Feb. 2, 2012 04:04

Life and Death



Someone I know died a few days ago. Let’s call her Rita. Not because that’s an assumed alias or made-up identity. It’s her real name. Or at least it was.

Rita died last week because of cancer.

Rita is the sister-in-law of a very, very, very dear friend of mine—a friend whose family became an extension of my own. This made Rita part of my family. I’d known Rita since I was in junior high.

A couple of years ago, Rita was diagnosed with cancer. It was a huge shock to everyone in the family. Cancer will do that to you. But—for a while at least—the usual treatments of chemotherapy, etc. seemed to be making a dent in the disease. For a while.

Not surprisingly, there came a time when I spoke to my friend and Rita’s family about whether or not they had ever considered the use of cannabis to help relieve her symptoms and improve the quality of her life. For one, the chemo that Rita was undergoing was destroying her appetite. And that’s a huge problem for someone suffering with a terminal illness.

An appetite whittled down to virtually nothing became Rita’s everyday struggle.

So, yes, her family did convince Rita to try cannabis a few times. I myself had given her a very potent medicated cookie as well.

Then things took a turn for the worst. The far, far worst. The absolute worst it could ever be.

Rita’s doctors canceled her remaining chemo sessions. There was no need.

All of Rita’s upcoming medical appointments were also canceled. Rita would not be needing them anymore.

The hospice care that had been set up at her home was being dismantled.

Rita was about to die.

Just a few days later, that’s what happened.

Rita had lost. The cancer had won.

We were all grief-stricken immediately . . . Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. And I’ve been holding my young children closer to me. My beautiful children, so full of life.

I’ve been thinking about a pendulum. It swings and at one end lies the inevitable. The Reaper. Mortality. Death.

Then it swings the other way. At the other end: life.

Beautiful, glorious life.

Rita, we miss you. I’m sorry the cancer won. I’m sorry you lost this fight, girl. I truly am. We lost someone truly special in our lives.

But amidst this loss, I have to remember that we all gained something from you. The world is a better place because you were in it.

Goodbye, Rita. Goodbye.

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