Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Friend I Never Knew Died Today

I wasn't sure if I should explain the 5th comment that was made on the previous blog post I wrote. I had decided to just leave it and explain if anyone asked, but now circumstances have changed my mind.

Nine days ago I was looking at a friend's blog when I decided to click on the "Next Blog" link on the top of the page. This link shows up at the top of most blogs and goes to a random blog. They're frequently in another language, and I've never actually come across something worthwhile by clicking it, i.e. I don't know why I even clicked it this time.

The blog I came to was indeed in another language. There were a lot of pictures, some of which seemed to be a woman in a hospital bed. That intrigued me enough to scroll through and try to figure out what was going on. I don't speak Swedish but I was able to see references to cancer. I translated her profile because I wanted to know her whole story. Summed up, it was this: Her name was Hanne and in June of 2007 the 28 year old was diagnosed with breast cancer. She finished up treatments to fight the cancer this past February. At the end of the same month she went to the doctor because of a sore hip and left with a diagnosis of bone cancer. In March she started her blog and for the last six months she's been documenting what she's been going through and how she's feeling. Her posts consist of a picture with a few sentences talking about it. She was dedicated and would frequently make multiple posts a day.

I eventually translated and read large portions of the blog, but even before I translated, I was struck by two things - the whole project was incredibly sad but at the same time very beautiful. There were many pictures of Hanne with friends and family and frequent comments to the posts by those people. I was also moved by the amount of courage it took to chronicle her own battle with a disease, especially because she honestly showed the good and the bad.

I write parts of two blogs of my own and I know that if someone finds something meaningful in something I write, I like to know about it, and because of that, I felt compelled to comment on her blog. I wrote briefly something along the lines of what I wrote here in the previous paragraph. I checked back a few days later and saw a comment left after mine and it was referencing what I had written. I translated the new comment but because the translator I used wasn't able to properly translate everything, I wasn't sure what the comment meant. I then had a horrible thought: What if I accidentally said something that would upset someone, particularly the woman with cancer who's plight had moved me? I started to regret ever posting the comment at all, but decided I needed to make another comment to make sure what I said hadn't misinterpreted, so I did.

A few days later I received an email from Hanne'a husband, Daniel. He assured me that my comment was appreciated and that the ones that followed my original were positive. I was very pleased that he took the time to send the note, especially when I realized that the only place my email address was accessible was via a blurb on the side of tblhabm, i.e. He had to go through my profile and look at my blogs in order to find my email address. My previous feelings of regret left entirely and I hoped my words really did bring someone just a brief moment of gratitude.

A few days ago, Hanne's sister-in-law made the comment on this blog that I referenced at the start of this post.

Today I went to Hanne's blog and my heart jumped when I saw that the newest post had over 40 comments, rather than the usual handful. I clicked to read the comments and quickly translated. That was it...I didn't know the details but the comments were clear - Hanne had died.

I knew virtually nothing about her, I had never communicated directly with her, and had only become aware of her existence less than two weeks ago, yet here I was, very saddened by her death. The whole of her six month blogging endeavor was a mixture of sadness - a young woman dying; beauty - a person, despite hardships, able to find happiness in the small things in life and share those moments with the people closest to her; courage - being honest in the sharing of the range of emotions and the hard times she was going through. Sadness is something that is a part of everyone's life at some point, that is without question. The question is then - Will we see the beauty that's all around us during our everyday life when sadness isn't around and will we have the courage to continue to see it once the sadness creeps in?

Tonight I listened very closely to the screams of my one-year-old son as he threw an overtired-and-hungry tantrum. Tonight I felt the hot water against my skin as I washed the dishes. Tonight I watched the breeze push through the leaves on the trees as it journeyed on it's way around the world.

You hear people say to "appreciate life", "enjoy the journey", "stop and smell the roses", etc, and every once in awhile an event happens in your life, a realization from the most unlikely of places by the strangest of coincidences, that really makes you think that you need to do...something...more. And you hope that the feeling stays with you. I hope that the feeling stays with me.


Anonymous said...

Very moving and poignant, makes me take pause and really look around. Thanks for sharing, Torey. Jayne.

Anonymous said...

We do need these reality checks periodically. Thanks for reminding us. Love, Beth