I felt guilty for being alive today.

There is a new person in my life, who I had only met one other time, and who I like very much. I spent some time with him today.  After taking care of business, we were chatting.

He looked at the photographs in my office and commented on the one of me, Al, Michael and Jack with the dolphins at Atlantis. He told me that he goes there once a year. “This year will be bittersweet”, he said.

I asked why.

Because it was the first time he was going since his daughter died last October, he said, from breast cancer. 

She was diagnosed at 32 with Stage IV. It was never good. It never got better.

She was just 32 when she was diagnosed. She had two children at the time. Two little girls. One was just a year old.

The similarities were obvious. I was diagnosed at 31. I had two small children. Two little boys.  One was just four months old.

Since my diagnosis, I have had twenty surgeries, drains, chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapies, shots, pills, swelling, baldness, terror, sores in my mouth, high fevers, rashes, eyelashes growing in backwards, lost nails, pain, numbness, terror, night sweats, pain meds, anti anxiety meds, terror, recurrent infections, weight gain, missed school functions, missed work functions, embarrassment and terror.

So did she.

 From what I learned today, she also made sure that she lived, even while going through all of the above. She went on vacations, she did things with her family, she did everything she was physically capable of doing. She didn’t waste any of her precious time. I felt such a connection to this girl that I never met. I told her father that I, too, had gone to Disney with radiation burns on my neck and a bald head that hurt (hair hurts when it falls out). I told him that we would do what we could and just bring a wheelchair with us.

He shared with me. And, I’m glad he did. I shared with him. I’m also glad about that.

Even though it was just the second time we met, we kissed each other good bye. I hope that meeting me didn’t hurt him too much. I hope that it wasn’t too painful to look at me and think to himself “why did this girl survive and not my daughter?”. He probably did, because that’s what I thought to myself.

I cried a little when he left. I tried not to but, I couldn’t help it. He may have cried on the way home. I’ll never know.

I felt guilty for being alive today. I feel bad that she is gone. I feel bad for her parents, her sister and brother, her husband and her children. I feel bad about all the crap she had to go through and all of the fear that I’m sure she felt. 

At the end of the day, I went through what I went through, and got life. She went through the same (and worse) and at the end of her journey, her life was gone.

She was diagnosed at 32. She died at 36. And, even though I’ve never met her, I love her.

I will pray tonight for her family and her friends.

I will also pray that when I wake up tomorrow, I feel more lucky than guilty.