I’ve recently been dealing with death on several fronts.

I just traveled to Texas and met for the first time a young woman I’ve communicated with for over a year who had my same type of appendix cancer, signet ring. She died of the disease just hours after I finally met her. When I came home my “adopted” son was talking to me about the father he loves and misses but has no memory of, his father died in an accident when he was only 3 years old. Another 88 year old friend of mine died this week, and another appendix cancer patient I communicate with lost a family member in a car accident this morning, the victim left behind a one-year-old daughter.

But learning of these deaths has not made me terribly sad.

The 88 year old woman outlived her husband by thirty years and outlived all of her siblings. She lived alone, her only son lived in another town. She’d had two hips replaced, had a pacemaker, and had been injured once recently in a home fall while climbing a ladder to change a light bulb, but she always proudly maintained her home and her independence. Her house was always full of green plants, she was always crocheting and tatting gifts for people, she loved to do jigsaw puzzles, and she had lots of us who loved her and loved to be around her. She had more wrinkles than I’d ever seen on a face, but she had a contagious joy about her that she passed on to everyone who saw her, even those who spent just a few minutes with her. She was special and had inspired me for years.

My “adopted” son answers some questi0ns for me…….my biggest struggle is understanding why those who are raising young children are taken from this world, why some don’t live long enough for their children to even remember them. But my son knows of and loves the father he doesn’t remember. His dad still influences his life in a positive way, and because of the father he misses, he is a more loving, caring, sensitive and spiritual teen than most I’ve met. He’s one of my favorite people to be around. I’m sure the loss of his dad has played a big part in who he has become.

The woman who died of appendix cancer had been in pain, she was young, but I know she is home too and no longer suffering. She’s forever done with CT scans and labs and chemo. We’ll have a lot more fun the next time I meet her.

And I don’t understand why the young mother was taken, but I have to believe there is a plan, and it truly enhances what I already know, that none of us is promised tomorrow. Today is what counts. Just recently this woman was helping an appendix cancer patient recover from major surgery feeling sure of her future. But she was a physician, I’m sure she knew that futures on this earth are fragile. All of us who work in health care know tomorrow is tentative.

Being a cancer survivor and being in the cancer community for several years has really made death seem less scary and less unfair to me, though. It truly seems to me now an integral and natural part of life. Understanding in every sense that my time here is limited now, I use my time much more wisely.

And I have developed a strong faith that when I am done here, I will finally and truly go home. Sadness for me is always now tempered with hope.