“THE SCARS THAT NO ONE SEES”
By Jane Davidio-Gagliardo
I wrote this blog with a heavy heart. This week has brought news of death,
heartache and despair. I realized, as I was speaking with a friend who I thought I knew
very well, that she had heartache and scars I never before seen. During our
conversation, she shared with me some of the challenges she’s faced. And this
week she was diagnosed with a terminal illness; so she called to talk. We have
always shared our thoughts as she is, like me, a widow and lives alone. She buried
her only child several years ago and yet, she still had a smile and a word of
encouragement whenever we would see each other or talk. I marveled at her
strength and courage. But this conversation felt as if she were confessing her sins
to me. Some of our past conversations would get very deep and thought-provoking.
But this one was different. She spoke and used words that seemed
lighter… as if she was relieved to finally know that the pain in her heart, the scars
she had been hiding and carrying were about to start healing. She now knows her
destiny. She commented that now that she knows her diagnosis is terminal, she
felt a sense of relief and freedom. She also said something very profound… “Now
it doesn’t matter how people judge her, because she won’t be around much longer
to hear their words.”
We spoke for a long time about her son and her husband and how much she loved
them both and the pain she has experienced as a result of losing them. She talked
about how much she missed them and now she no longer desired to hide her scars
anymore. I closed my eyes and listened to her words with loving ears ready and
willing to provide whatever comfort I could. My dear friend sounded both
engaged and lighthearted. And for the first time in a long time, she sounded
happy. It was as if she found happiness in the diagnosis of her terminal illness.
Sadly, I understood it. And a small part of me, for a brief moment, envied her.
She said she was glad she no longer had to fight with the grind of everyday life.
No more having to smile on days that all she wanted to do was stay in bed. She
shared that some days her heart was too heavy to even think straight. She no
longer had to struggle to deal with the dread of anniversaries, birthdays and
holidays coming every year. She can now be completely open and free. I asked
her if she was going to be a bitch? She laughed and told me that there were people
who already thought she was.
As we continued to talk, she shared a lot of details about her childhood. How she
never got over the loss of her mom. How she would talk to her through every
struggle in her life. And now she knows she will soon be reunited with her.
After we hung up. I stated to think of my own mortality. My own way of dealing
with life. I completely understand how she is feeling. But I can tell you this, she
gave me a whole new perspective on how to lighten up my life and how I feel
about things. Maybe we all take life too seriously. Maybe, just maybe, we need to
have 80% fun and 20% work in our lives. I will miss my dear friend. I will cry
when she’s gone. I will miss her more than I have words to convey. But for now,
I will laugh with her. I will eat and drink with her. I will dance and sing with her.
Until she takes her last breath, I will learn from her and grow because of her and be
more loving, more understanding and forgive myself with greater ease. Because
we are human I will be loving and humane as she prepares to transition from this
life. We are worth the struggle to make life whatever we need and want it to be.
So I leave you with this quote: “Death Is Not The Greatest Loss In Life. The
Greatest Loss Is What Dies Inside Us While We Live.” (Norman Cousins) Stay
Safe. Stay Strong. Stay Fearless.