“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”
~ Stephen R. Covey
I have a beautiful girlfriend who is the ultimate career woman. She has worked for the same corporation for 25 years, starting at the very bottom and working her way up. She is one of those women who has climbed the ladder and broken through the glass ceiling. For twenty five years she has devoted herself to this organisation, and enjoyed a meteoric rise. She’s a stunning project manager, and she gets things done. They always call on her in a crisis. There is always a crisis. She works insane hours, lives and breathes company business, and is paid accordingly.
In the middle of this she has managed to complete a degree, an MBA, and to marry and have two children. She always wanted to have children but by the time she and her husband started trying for babies in her late thirties, pregnancy just wasn’t happening. She has two beautiful daughters, aged 3 and 6, both from IVF, which was a long and difficult process. It took many attempts to bring those little girls into the world.
No, this is not a post about leaving babies til the last minute.
It’s a post about leaving life til the last minute.
You see, my friend sent me a frantic text yesterday morning, and then called me as soon as she knew I was awake.
I haven’t seen her for a couple of years. You know how things are when people get busy.
She had news. The worst kind. She’s been diagnosed with aggressive and advanced ovarian cancer. It’s inoperable. They think she may have twelve weeks to live, give or take. There’s no time left for treatment. Only for palliative care.
She started losing weight eighteen months ago and put it down to stress. But secretly she was also thrilled. She had put on plenty of weight during each of her pregnancies and had never been able to get it back off again. Still, her tummy stayed round and bloated.
She hasn’t felt her best since the babies were born. But that’s normal for busy mums, isn’t it? Anyway, she always said to me that she was too busy to have the luxury of a sick day.
My friend left it so long to do something about the pelvic pain, the back aches, the bladder leaks, the fatigue, that when she finally made the time to see a doctor it was all too late. She is riddled with cancer. It’s in her bowel, her brain, her liver, her lungs, her bones. Everywhere.
What should she do, my friend asked me. She has recently moved her husband, two little children and their nanny to yet another new city while she works on a difficult merger. They haven’t really settled in yet. She began to tell me all about the work…
Screw the work, I said. Come home. Come home to your family and your husband’s family. Come home to the people who love you, and who can take care of you all. Forget the responsibilities. Now is the time to focus on what truly matters. Living. Loving. Drinking up every last moment. Creating the best kinds of memories. Gifting yourself and your loved ones the time you have left.
She kept crying, over and over, I thought I’d have more time. God, it almost undid me.
All her working life my friend has put things to one side; holidays, celebrations, lazy Sundays, time out with family and friends, because she though that one day she’d be in a magical place where there was plenty of time, and plenty of money and plenty of life left to enjoy all those good things.
Life is so short. So precious. None of us ever really know how much time we have.
Oh, it breaks my heart, dear ones. It just breaks my heart.
I’m going to take a few days off blogging, while I support my friend through this next part of her journey.
Please, look after yourselves. Look after your health and your loved ones. Work out what matters and spend time on those relationships and activities. It’s the journey, as much as the destination. You know that, don’t you?
That great behemoth of a corporation my friend works for will get by just fine without her. She might not have realised it, but she is expendable to them, although I’m sure they’ll miss her, and her talents.
Her husband and kids? I’m sure they can’t say the same.
My friend, ever the one to seek productive outcomes from any situation, asked me to write this post. She hoped it may serve as a reality check for people like her, who’ve strayed too far from what really counts.
Will you hold her and her family in your thoughts and prayers? Her name’s Julie, and she sure could use a little extra love and light right now.