An email arrived in my inbox last night with the subject line: "Carmen is finally free." It was meant to be uplifting. But I was sad. It's hard for me to accept a death to cancer when it strikes someone otherwise healthy and vibrant.
I only knew Carmen in passing. She was active at my Dharma center. She had a glowing smile and a warm personality. She was stylish and a little bit sexy. I'm not sure how old she was, but she couldn't have been over 50. She got sick last fall and threw herself a huge party before she went into treatment. How awesome is that?
This is how the invitation read:
DEAR FRIENDS, You might have heard the news by now...I was recently diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Doctors say it has spread to the liver and some lymph nodes. I will be starting chemotherapy soon. I know... bummer! But, I see this as the beginning of a new stage in my life. I know it's a long road ahead but I know I won't be alone, and I would love to have you there with me. * *HOW? Please join me in a Pre-Chemo-Life Celebration Party and help me kick start this journey with a blast of good energy! * *WHAT? This is going to be the "Sickest" Party ever! Live music, dancing, food and drinks! * *DRESS UP! Come on, what did you expect from me? All the way baby! *
I saw Carmen last in March at a teaching. She was much diminished in stature and seemed to be in a fair amount of pain. But she was still that loving and kind person with flare to spare that I'd admired. According to her friends, she did suffer a lot of pain at the end of her illness. Death was freedom from it. She certainly inspired me with her grace and spirit. May she have the best rebirth.