Writer's Workshop: Emails From Beyond.

Hi Amber,

I was just getting caught up on your blog (yep, we have Internet access in heaven) and I read about your recent cancer scare. I’m so sorry you had to go through that! Six weeks is a long time to go without knowing what’s wrong with you. Remember how they told me my symptoms were just caused by mastitis?

I knew it went deeper than that, but it took months for the doctors to come up with the right diagnosis. And even when they did, I didn’t believe them. I mean, breast cancer? I was only thirty. Thirty with a newborn to take care of. I didn’t have time for cancer! But, unfortunately, cancer had plenty of time for me…

Anyway, I understand what you went through, and how awful that must have felt. If I was there, I’d give you a hug. But the only way I could do that is if I told the Big Guy I wanted to haunt you – and that just wouldn’t be very relaxing for either of us.

Sending you a virtual hug,
Julie

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Julie,

 Thank you for your note. I’m so glad that you’re in heaven, and that you’re happy (you are happy, aren’t you?). I think about you all the time. There are so many things I wish I could say to you…

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you were struggling with your disease. I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know what. I’d never known someone (well someone so young) with cancer before, and I didn’t know how to handle it.

We all thought that you’d beat it. That you’d pull through. I was sure I’d have lots of time to make up for my…I don’t know what the word is. Fear? That’s really what it came down to. I was afraid of you – of what was happening to you.

And when I found out that you gave all the money we raised for you to research instead of using it to pay your bills? Well, I don’t think I’ve ever been so in awe of another human being in my whole life.

Julie, I want you to know I’ll always remember you. I give a donation to the American Cancer Society every year in your name. No one should ever have to go through what you did. No one.

Hugs right back,
Amber

P.S. Do they have chocolate in heaven? I’ve always wondered…
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Amber,

Thank you for your kind words. You weren’t the only one who was tongue-tied. Lots of people reacted the same way. But it’s okay. I knew you were all thinking of me, and that you wished me well.

I learned a lot from that experience. I learned to be grateful for what I had. To tell the people I cared about that I loved them every chance I got. I learned that every day, every hour, every minute, every second is precious, and not a single one should ever be taken for granted.

I won’t lie. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to see my kids grow up, and finish building my house with my sister. I wanted to live. But if what my doctors learned by caring for me can help another woman avoid the same fate, then it was all worthwhile.

I’ll be checking in on you from time to time, so be good. Tell Brian I said hello and hug that little girl of yours for me. She really is adorable. And take care of yourself. I don’t want to see you up here for a long, long time.

Julie

P.S. The chocolate is divine. Get it? Divine…No? Oh, never mind.
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This week, Mama Kat asked us to write a letter to ourselves from someone who has died. As usual, I took a few liberties, but the story is true. My friend Julie was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer just months after giving birth. She battled it for a number of years, and at times she appeared to be winning, but she eventually succumbed in late 2008.

Breast cancer can happen to anyone, at any age. So, please, do those self breast exams monthly. And if you can? Donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation,  or the American Cancer Society. Together, we can find a cure.

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