My daughter met her friend, Lily, only three weeks ago. But I don’t know how much longer their friendship will last because Lily has stage four cancer.
My daughter met Lily through a mutual acquaintance at our church who asked my daughter if she’d be willing to join a group of girls who visited Lily at least once a week. When Lily is feeling up to it, the girls go to her house to hang out with her and do things that 13 year old girls do such as watch movies, laugh, and play video games. My daughter, who is a skilled fingernail artists, paints elaborate designs on Lily’s nails on each visit. She told me that Lily was extremely happy to get her nails painted because she had never had them done before. My daughter was awestruck when she saw much joy Lily received from the simple things most kids take for granted. In fact, Lily’s attitude has taught my daughter to be more grateful for the things that she has.
Last weekend, the girls planned to take Lily to the movies. This was a big deal because Lily hadn’t left her house in several months because of her illness. A few hours before they were supposed to leave, Lily’s mother called my wife to let her know that Lily wouldn’t be able to go. Her illness had gotten worse and she had spent the night in the hospital.
My wife broke the news to my daughter as gently as she could.
“Lily’s really sick,” she said. “The doctors tried to revive her all night, but they couldn’t. I don’t know how much longer she has to live.”
“Are you trying to make me feel bad?” she said trying to hold back the tears.
“No,” said my wife. “I’m just trying to keep you informed about your friend’s condition.”
My daughter, who is 12 years old, hasn’t experienced the death of someone she cares for. In her mind, only old people die – not 13 year old girls. And certainly not her friends. I’m not sure how to help her cope. On one hand, I want to encourage her to have a positive attitude and keep believing that her friend will have a miracle recovery. On the other hand, I want her to be prepared for the inevitable. Lily is getting hospice care now and the doctors have only given her a few more weeks to live.
But my daughter refuses to lose hope. The other day, she helped my wife to deliver dinner and brownies to Lily’s family and she’s practicing new designs for Lily’s fingernails. I do hope she’s able to give her friend at least one more manicure.