Saturday, August 15, 2009

Diane, My Hero

One of the things that I am becoming acutely aware of as I go through this experience is how many families are affected by this disease. It seems like everyone I know has a friend or relative that has had it, might have it now, or is already at war with it. Some have won their battles, and too many have lost them. But, everywhere I go someone is affected. I really wasn't one of those people until it happened to me. With one very special exception...

When I was 14 my parents divorced. My Dad remarried right away and my Mom was adjusting to life as a single mom with 2 girls. I guess I was confused a lot and didn't really know where to take those thoughts or exactly how I was supposed to act. I don't remember being terribly traumatized by the whole thing, but I was definitely in uncharted waters. That's when I met Diane Harrison. She was my new stepmom's best friend, and she filled a gap for me that no one else did.

I believe I met Diane after she was already battling breast cancer. I don't have any memories of her with hair or before the war was waging. So, I'm fairly certain that's a true statement. She never seemed to wear hair. It was too hot in Houston. She just put on a beautiful scarf and away shew went. I have many clear memories of her. She was like light and energy embodied in human form. I never remember her not having a smile on her face no matter how bad she felt or ever being unkind. Her presence and laughter filled a room like no one else I had ever met before, or since. She was the kind of person that you never wanted to leave. I got to spend several precious days with her, just the two of us. I guess my Dad and Stepmom were busy or something. Don't remember what the reason was, but I have always been so thankful for that time.

I remember the day we went to Foley's to try and find her a bra that would work with her "falsie" since she'd had a single mastectomy. They didn't have cancer salons that met those needs back then. You were just kind of on your own to deal with it. Nothing seemed to work right so we gave up and left. How hard that must have been for her. Here she was with a tag-along new stepdaughter of her best friend going through an experience that would put any woman on the floor in a puddle. But, not her. She even asked my opinion of each one and we discussed why it wasn't going to work! I was too young to understand what it meant then, but I do now. What a woman!

I also remember the day we were shopping in TJ Maxx and a headache hit her so hard that we had to leave. It's one of those moments in time that stands still in a snapshot that was never taken. It had been bugging her all day but this wave of pain was different. She looked scared to me for the first time. Again, I didn't understand what was really going on. We left. I went back to Dad's house and our day was cut short. Turns out that was the first sign of the cancer's return. This time it was in her brain. She fought hard but didn't win the second time around. Over the years I've thought of her often. But, now I do every single day.

You see, God gave her to me for a very short time to meet the need of a 14 year old girl who was confused. One who needed her example. I just never completely knew why until now. I've spent my life surrounded by great women. My Mom and both of my Grandmothers come to mind immediately. But, they never did THIS. And for some reason I couldn't talk to them about what was going on then either.

He also gave her to me for now, 25 years later. He knew this day would come and her example would be one I desperately needed. As I ponder the next step (no hair), I am overcome with grief. I try on all my wigs over and over hoping that they will look better each time. They don't, not yet anyway. Supposedly they look better when your hair is gone. Of course they do!! How could they not look better than that? The alternative is nothing! Or, maybe it's not. Maybe it's to be like Diane, find a pretty scarf, and walk tall. Either way, I wish I could tell her that she was my hero.


Howdybooth said...

I know you will find a way to over come this too. You have such beautiful eyes no one will notice the missing hair......later they will think, "you know, it took me a while to realize she didn't have hair."

I believe it's the unknown that scares you the most. I also believe the talking it out helps you. I'm going to share this insight with my sister.....maybe it can help her too.

kitykity said...

You don't have to be looking her in the eyes to tell her.

And that day you step out of your house, with your makeup on and your scarf around your head instead of a wig of hair, I'll be sure to tell you how beautiful you look. Because hair or not, that radiates out from the inside of you.


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