By Jonathan Urban

Copyright March 30, 2000

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The diagnosis was irrefutable and set in stone. How could this happen Susan thought. She was only thirty-two, so full of life and had so many years ahead of her. Now there was this tumor--like an invader in her body that would rob her of all the years ahead.

She cried, and the doctor consoled her as best he could console someone who was facing death. "But you are sure it cannot be operated on?" It was her desperate plea. The doctor answered with a solemn expression.

Susan had six months approximately...

Susan was determined not to let those six months go by in sorrow and self-pity. She had a son and a husband that she cared deeply about. Susan awoke this particular morning, early, before even her husband. She strolled into the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror.

She scrutinized her appearance. She was very attractive, five foot, six inches, with long dark hair and green eyes. She unrobed herself and looked at her body. She looked thin to herself--couldn't be the tumor already? She removed that thought from her mind. She took a shower and got dressed.

Her doctor had recommended that she go to a counseling group at least once a week to deal with her cancer. Today was her first group meeting. She drove to the hospital where the group was to meet--her thoughts distant and mixed with emotions filling up inside her.

She entered the room and saw a vacant seat, and sat down. She looked around the room--the people varied from very sick to moderately sick like herself--at least for the time being she thought. Perhaps looking at the very sick, she saw herself several months into the future. A lone tear ran down her cheek--she quickly wiped it away before anyone saw it.

A doctor in a white coat walked in. He was average height, weight, with dark hair and eyes, medium complexion. He casually walked to the center of the room. He smiled as he looked around. "Welcome," he said as they all looked at him as he introduced himself.

His voice was very sensitive and strong. Susan found herself feeling very comfortable in his presence. She felt as though she could open up and tell him how sad she was about her cancer.

"If you don't mind," the doctor smiled, "please one at a time, identify yourself, and your type of cancer."

One after another, the patients gave their names and what type of cancer they were stricken with. Soon it was Susan's turn. "My name is Susan...I have a malignant brain tumor..." She sat down quickly before she burst into tears. The doctor walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"It's ok Susan, everyone here understands," The doctor smiled sympathetically.

The session only lasted about an hour, and everyone cleared out of the room, except for Susan. She sat and stared out of the window. She felt a familiar hand on her shoulder--it was that of the doctor's.

"Susan, it's natural to feel this way. Mind if I sit down?"

"Sure..." She said quietly.

"I can't pretend to know fully how you feel, since I myself am not going through it. I can only empathize through the eyes of others. I would like to talk with you over lunch, if you have the time?"

"Yes, that would be nice."

Susan sat with the doctor at a circular table in the hospital cafeteria. The food was edible, but not the best. However, being able to talk to someone like the doctor made up for that. His voice was so soothing and comforting.

"You know life there are two journeys one makes. The first journey begins when you are born. You are new in the world, unspoiled. You begin a journey to adulthood. It's a short journey, though seems very long. The second journey begins after you become an adult--it is the ultimate journey--the journey toward death--" The doctor paused.

"But that is a journey I am not ready for doctor...I am too young...I have a family that needs's not my time!" She began to weep again.

"Everyone wants to refuse the fact that anytime, is their time. Susan, we are not guaranteed any particular number of years. Each day, each month, and each year is a gift--not a guarantee. We must learn to accept that death is around every corner--that is what makes life meaningful," the doctor smiled. "Would you join me for a walk? It is beautiful outside."

Susan and the doctor walked along the courtyard of the hospital. Susan was reminded of life in everything she saw, as new plants and trees were blooming. "Doctor, I am not feeling too well...I need to lie..." Susan collapsed in the arms of the doctor who immediately called for a nurse and a gurney.

Susan's husband Mike, and their son, Chris sat by the hospital bed next to her. The doctor had explained how the tumor had caused an aneurysm and that she would not live past the evening. Mike, with his dark eyes filling up with tears, held his wife's hand. Their son Chris sat wide-eyed with bright blue eyes, and a look of sadness. He was only five and scared.

"Honey, will you please go out with the doctor for a minute and let me talk to your dad?"

The doctor held Chris' hand and took him out. Mike looked at his wife, "Susan...I love you. I can't believe this is happening to us..."

"Mike, you have to be strong for yourself and Chris. I love you two so much, and will always be there with you in your hearts," Susan was fading in and out of consciousness. "Promise me you will do that."

"I promise," Mike put his head on her chest. "Please don't leave me..."

Susan didn't respond. Mike ran out of the room and got the doctor. The doctor told Mike to stay with his son out here as he worked on Susan. The doctor looked at Susan.

" is almost time...don't be afraid."

"I'm not afraid is the strangest thing but I am not afraid at all."

" me Quincy," the doctor smiled and put his hand on her head.

"Thank you...Quincy...for your words of...kindness..." Susan said with her final breath.

Quincy stood there for a moment. He would miss her. She was strong and resolved herself to face Death, not run from it. He respected her for that, unlike so many who tried to cheat Death. Quincy smiled at her, "You will be missed, but your family will be ok in time," and left the room to tell her family that she had passed away.