Re: End of Life read the subject line. We were six months into the pandemic when Brian emailed Things are changing with my cancer.
Brian had been living with the spreading tumors for a couple of years. We’d met when he was the head of a Montessori school where I was leading a workshop. I’d mentioned in passing my aspiration to become an end-of-life doula one day. Now he was inviting me to not wait for my certification.
When asked what was most important to him, there was no hesitation. “My girls”. His beloved spouse and his teenage daughter were the focus of his love and his now limited energy.
He had many decisions to make. Whether to undergo the next grueling round of chemo or the next alternative healing approach from the many his wife incessantly searched for when she wasn’t praying for a miracle. Whether to try to keep working to increase their savings for his girls or spend his time with loved ones. Whether to tell the truth to others about his utter exhaustion.
Some decisions were easier, like goal setting. Brian had a couple of big ones. One was to enjoy more time on his sailboat. The other was to see his daughter Megan graduate high school.
For two years Brian and I have talked every three weeks, looking at one another on screens.
Since we started, he’s endured multiple rounds of cancer-killing drugs, drunk gallons of carrot juice, left his post at the school, and sailed on the beautiful shore and inland waterways of North Carolina. He’s grown me with every conversation along the way.
Brian has watched Megan jump off diving boards, adore her first boyfriend, and attend prom. This week he saw her graduate.
I’ve been coaching for over 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of people reach extraordinary goals. Few have been sweeter than this one. I’ll be celebrating many wonderful graduations this season. I’m cherishing this one especially.
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