Over time, and I am happy to be able to continue saying that, you discover that human suffering is ubiquitous - that each day there are new struggles to overcome, and news of others that are now traveling the difficult roads of health challenges. Dear friends and family are struggling against cancers, against relationship challenges, against accidental injuries. For me, these are additional reminders of the fragile connections between us, and the most beautiful and tenuous link that we have to this existence. Life is such a short and rich journey.
Years ago, an aggressive throat cancer took a beloved aunt-in-law from my experience of this world. Taken long before anyone expected, Teri left a gaping hole in many lives. We traveled far to support her in her fight... And it was a fight. She had to have aggressive radiation therapy - with a hard plastic mask to help ensure that the radiation was targeted precisely each time. The cancer made it difficult for her to breath and to swallow. It was a difficult visit for so many reasons.
I remember several scenes so vividly. This was Toronto in the winter. There was snow, though not much. It was cold and sunny. I walked around the area of the hospital, and in a small music shop heard (and purchased) my first Eva Cassidy CD. Eva was from the Washington, DC area... her voice was beautiful, her covers of existing music fresh, and her range of musical interest broad. I did not discover until later that Eva had died in 1997 of melanoma. Her wonderful bright music haunts my memory of Teri and that miserable time in Toronto in early 2001.