David and I divorced in 1990. Every Christmas since, I have received a Christmas card from his mother. She always fills up the blank half of the card with bits of news from the year. This year I felt startled when I read "So much has happened, there's no way I could fit it all in a card. We need to talk". I immediately sent a card to them (the only one I sent to anyone this year) that gave my cell phone number, and asked them to please call me. Today at 4:12, I got that call.
I loved David's family very much. Losing them was by far the hardest part of ending that marriage. David has three brothers; all very close in age. I adored them all. His older brother became a father shortly after we started dating. The little girl's name was Sasha. David and I spent a lot of weekend nights with them, playing cards and hanging out. I wasn't used to being around babies or small children, and I used to take tons of pictures of Sasha. She was a beautiful little girl with blonde hair and a lovely spirit. Then, David's entire family, including Sasha and her parents moved to another state when the company they worked for relocated. We used to drive to visit them several times a year, and Sasha would always cling to me the entire time. She was constantly on my lap or following me around. She would play with my hair and ask me to read her stories.
Sasha grew up and became a school teacher. She got married. She had a child of her own. Then today at 4:12 I found out that Sasha has terminal brain cancer. She's had surgeries to remove the tumor, but it keeps coming back. She's been through as much chemo and radiation as her body can take. Her friends and family raised enough money to send her to a special hospital in Texas that treats seriously ill cancer patients. Nothing can be done to help Sasha. Now she is starting to lose mobility and have some confusion. There's nothing her family can do except sit back and watch her deteriorate.
In addition to this devastating news, they also told me about two or three other tragedies in their family. David's younger brother's wife also has cancer. I sat there on the phone, not knowing what to say. I couldn't believe one family could have so much tragedy in such a short period of time. Finally, I asked about David. How is he doing? I was shocked to hear he just had his 19th surgery, following a devastating car crash sometime around 2000. Now, he's about to undergo a 20th. I could not help but think how different my life would have been had I stayed with David. Would it have been me in that car with him that night instead of his current wife? Would I have spent the past 12 or so years caring for him?
It's been an incredibly emotional evening for me. I've cried. I drank half a bottle of wine straight from the bottle. I can't get them out of my mind. My heart is breaking for this wonderful, wonderful family who is enduring so much pain right now. Sasha's mother, my age; my former sister-in-law, and once a very dear friend to me....what must she be feeling right now? I couldn't help thinking of the four year old child who will grow up without his mother. My mind is so tired, and think it's time for me to go to sleep. But I will remember what my former father-in-law said to me today when I told him I just didn't know what to say. He said "Just pray for us all. That's all you can do". So before I lay me down to sleep, that's exactly what I will do.
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