The big picture

As this is being posted to the website, someone very close to me is undergoing brain surgery. She has an aggressive tumor, which as far as doctors can tell, started growing just six weeks ago.

A month and a half ago she was healthy, gregarious, and planning a baby shower for me; now she’s in Houston at the MD Anderson Cancer Treatment Center fighting for her life.

I hate this tumor, and I hate all of the fear it has caused.

I’m sharing this personal story with you for two reasons. First, as a reminder that life is short, even if you live to be 100. We are not immortals. Each moment is a gift, and you have a choice of how you spend that time. You can let it idly pass you by, being unaware of its rich possibilities and cluttering your days with unimportant stuff. Or, you can carpe vitam — seize life — and take advantage of all the valuable experiences this world has to offer.

Second, I’m sharing this story with you as a reminder that you never know what others are dealing with when you encounter them. The person who cut you off in traffic may be rushing to the hospital. The cell phone that rings during a movie may be an emergency. The person who didn’t return your e-mail may have more important matters in front of him. None of us can read minds or know what is going on in everyone’s life — cut people slack, and hopefully they’ll do the same when you need that favor.

Stop cluttering up your life with things that don’t matter to you. Take responsibility for your life and what you have chosen to include in it. Stop cluttering up your time assuming the worst in other people. And, treat everyone you encounter as if you know someone they love is undergoing brain surgery — unfortunately, it might be true.

96 Comments for “The big picture”

  1. posted by Jackie on

    I will pray for your friend. I hope the surgery is a success and she makes a full recovery. So sad for all of you.

  2. posted by Lisatella on

    A good reminder for all of us. Best wishes for your friend’s speedy recovery.

  3. posted by Jane on

    I’m sorry for you and your friend….I’ll be thinking about you and her. Please keep us updated!

  4. posted by Amanda on

    Speedy recovery for your friend and great post. I try to say out loud that the individual cuts me off or speeds by is going to the hospital because their family member is having a baby and needs support. It helps my slough the road rage.

    I’m doing “carpe diem” tomorrow, my friend and her new baby are visiting my new house and we’ll be walking near the river by my house. I could spend all day cleaning, preparing for next week etc, but babies are babies for only so long, household cobwebs will just have to wait.

  5. posted by Eric on

    I checked your wonderful site to distract me as I had just heard that a friend died unexpectedly last night. Your advice, Eric, is so right. I’m leaving work to go and be with my family and will hold good thoughts for you and yours.

    Kind regards


  6. posted by MissPrism on

    Best wishes to your friend and her family.

  7. posted by Vanessa W. on

    I copied a paragraph from this to post as part of my status so I could share it with my impatient friends that need to hear this! Thank you

  8. posted by Vanessa W. on

    It’s good for all of us to hear!

  9. posted by Vanessa W. on

    I’m so sorry for all the stress you are enduring at this time. I’m hoping the best for your dear friend!

  10. posted by Tess on

    Great post! So true, so true. I’ll be praying for your friend.

  11. posted by Amy on

    I’ll be praying for your friend.

    This is all so true. I’ll never forget my first day back at work after my father had committed suicide and a customer began berating me for something absolutely ridiculous and it just struck me how ridiculous it all was.

  12. posted by Emily on

    If it’s ok, I’ll add your friend to our parish prayer list

  13. posted by Marjorie on

    Well said. Things don’t matter. People do. Wishing the best for you and your friend.

  14. posted by Alan on

    Your friend and her family and you all are in my prayers.

  15. posted by bpod on

    This touches on a quote from Plato that I always try to keep in my present mind:

    “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

    Thank you for the reminder of why this is such a good idea.

    I hope the surgery is successful; sending you both well wishes.

  16. posted by Amy on

    Saying a prayer today for your friend. Hugs to you and to her.

    Thanks for the poignant reminder to be generous with grace and keep the important things first!

  17. posted by Lenore on

    Very true. All the best to your friend.

  18. posted by D on

    Best wishes to your friend and yourself.

    Very true – you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.

  19. posted by Tim Wilson on

    “…you never know what others are dealing with when you encounter them.”

    You’re absolutely right.

    Whatever your beliefs, the Bible says something that hits the nail on the head, here:

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7.1)

    So easy to say, so hard to do.

    Best wishes and prayers for a full and speedy recovery.

  20. posted by [email protected] on

    Lovely words that honor your friend and life itself. Thinking positive thoughts for all of you…

  21. posted by Neens on

    So very true. I wish you and your friend all the best, Erin.

  22. posted by Shel on

    Re: “…you never know what others are dealing with when you encounter them.”

    @Erin: I could have written that sentence! Five years ago my younger sister (her name was Erin) was murdered. At the time, I was living in Alaska, across the country from the rest of my family and where I grew up. We were on the next flight. On the plane, with my wonderful husband and children, every time someone looked at me or spoke to me, e.g., “how are you today?” I would think, you do not want to know! I found myself to be the possessor of awkward and horrible knowledge; people just weren’t prepared to hear my answer, and I worried about burdening strangers with the true answer to their question.

    Now let me share an example of how crucial it is to be genuine when you do reach out:

    For the sentencing of my sister’s killer, I flew back solo, and I was quite anxious about giving my victim impact statement in court. An older man sitting next to me asked one of those “so, where are you going?” questions, and I swallowed and answered, expecting a “sorry for your loss” followed by a quick retreat into Sky Mall. Then I noticed an odd thing: this guy was listening! He was curious, asked intelligent and thoughtful questions, and just stayed in the moment with me. That few hours was one of the most cathartic and empowering encounters of my life. Astonishingly, he was also on my flight back to Alaska as well. We didn’t sit together, but he asked how things had gone and gave me his card. Just looking at it reminds me of the gift I received when I really needed it.

  23. posted by dana j on

    Life is so terribly short and we truly don’t realize it until something like this happens.

    My daugther almost 4, was diagnoised with cancer too. ( The whole thing sucks. 🙁 sending prayers for your friend!

  24. posted by Sue on

    Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your friends.

    May the surgery be successful & the recovery short.


  25. posted by Tim Stringer on

    Thanks for sharing this personal story and the wisdom that this experience has revealed. I can relate – in 2008, at the age of 40 I was very unexpectedly diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. I underwent a roller coaster ride that included four agressive rounds of chemotherapy and a major surgery…before being handed a clean bill of health, just in time for Christmas. I pray that your friend’s story takes an equally positive turn.

    My own experience has taught me how precious each breath of life is and left me with a commitment to focus on what’s truly important and on the unique gifts I have to offer the world. Living an uncluttered life – both in terms of physical surroundings and mental clarity – is a key component to living the fulfilling life I’m committed to.

    On a side note, I wrote an article for the David Allen Company called “A Healing Journey” that’s available on their blog: It chronicles my own journey through cancer and the role that GTD played in my recovery.

  26. posted by Ellen on

    Not all paths are on the map.

    You’ve provided much inspiration to my path. As you can tell from the comments here, the thoughts and prayers of many are with you and your loved one.

  27. posted by April E. on

    Sending healing vibes and caring thoughts to your friend and to you, Erin. Thank you for your lovely and helpful post.

    It is amazing how these experiences transform us. My father died recently, and my perspective has shifted. I just hope I can hold on to the lessons even as my grief eases.

  28. posted by Allison on

    This is such an important message to remember. My thoughts are with you and your friend.

  29. posted by Alix on

    Healing wishes to your friend, Erin, and fingers crossed for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

  30. posted by Katie on

    So sorry to hear about your friend.

    A few years ago, when my commute was outrageous and marked by tons of drivers who cut in, I found that I would spend my whole day angry because I’d been cut off. Finally, I decided that instead of getting angry, I’d make up excuses for every person who was rude. This guy’s on his way to the hospital, that guy’s going to miss his flight, that lady is trying to get to a job interview…

    It made a huge, huge difference in my state of mind. It’s just not worthwhile to carry around so much anger.

  31. posted by winner27 on

    Such a powerful post Erin. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your friend. Thank you for such an important lesson.

  32. posted by Joke on

    Thank you Erin and everyone else here for sharing your personal stories.
    Sometimes, it is good to clear everything out and focus on what’s really important.
    This time, I will focus on all of you and pray you will all be alright.

  33. posted by Jarrod H on

    Last year, in February, a good friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver. I talked to him the night before. No one saw it coming, clearly. I’ve taken his death with a mixture of pain and disconnectedness.

    But out of that, I found a newfound desire to live. I don’t want to be in the rat race. I don’t want to have stuff that doesn’t matter. I want to live a life of joy and happiness.

    You’re in my thoughts, as is your friend. And yes, the lesson I think far too many of us simple living/unclutterers/crap removers share is that it usually takes something shocking and painful to jolt us into seeing the reality of what we’re doing with our lives.

    Last year, I would have said that in a year, I’d be a Senior level software engineer. Now, I’m not so certain it’s something I want. Now, I’m pretty certain my life is going in a new and exciting direction.

  34. posted by Ronique Gibson on

    Very good post, makes you stop and reflect. Thank you, and good luck to your friend.

  35. posted by Natalia on

    What a wonderful reminder! Thanks!

  36. posted by Sandi on

    Thanks for sharing so honestly, Erin, its truth is meaningful and obviously touches something in each of us.. I’ll be praying for your nearby friend (I’m in Austin), her family and friends, and also her medical providers.

  37. posted by Karen on

    Very good post. My brother died unexpectedly at the age of 30. At the time he died, he was trying to log as many billable hours as he could at the law firm where he he worked, because he was trying to make partner. This was a goal he’d had in mind for a long time, partly (I think) because he felt it would make his parents proud.

    A few months before he died, he confessed to my husband that he’d just realized that making partner wouldn’t increase his salary, and it wouldn’t lighten his workload…so why was he doing it? For the title. For the prestige. In the meantime, he was feeling pressured to get all these hours in before the end of the year, before Christmas, so he could go down to visit our parents, who were nagging him to visit for the holidays.

    He died the day after I spoke to him, when he said he was feeling ill, and was “kind of dreading” the holidays, with all the family obligations. I urged him to relax, take time off, to stay home if he felt ill. He agreed, but I think it was too late.

    My point is that seizing the day is not always about seizing that brass ring. It’s about doing what makes sense for you, taking care of yourself, and sometimes decluttering family’s expectations. When I think that if only my brother had slowed down a bit, not worried about success and what the family thought, he might be alive today, I am so sad for him.

  38. posted by Kathryn Fenner on

    The sort of impatient, rush-everywhere behavior is so narcissistic, and it is stealing. Stealing others’ time and safety and peace because *You* are more important. Slow down and enjoy life more.

    So sorry to hear about your friend. I hope all comes right. Thank you for your great post on your great blog.

  39. posted by Ann H. on

    Very well said, Erin. Best wishes for your friend’s speedy recovery.

  40. posted by Julie on

    I hope sharing this personal story with your readers has brought some comfort to you today – knowing how many people care about you and the important people in your life.

    Thank you for the heartfelt and touching reminders – we need to hear them often I think. Keeping your friend in my prayers for a speedy recovery.

  41. posted by steve crane on

    Erin,You must be so worried-my thoughts are with you-I’ve been there myself.Your post is possibly your most impactful yet in my opinion and thankyou for sharing your thoughts.

  42. posted by teri on

    the good news is MD Anderson is a fabulous facility. your friend is in very good hands.

  43. posted by Sarah on

    Thanks for this – kudos to you for reminding us all of the thing that seems so obvious, yet is so frequently ignored in daily life . Good luck to your friend, I wish you the best.

  44. posted by Jan S. on

    Erin, Blessings to your friend and also to you…surrounding you and your friend with thoughts of love, peace, and comfort.


  45. posted by shawncita on

    Thank you for this poignant reminder. I wish the very best for your friend’s speedy and complete recover.

  46. posted by Lilliane P on


    Will say a prayer for you and friend also. Your post is such a powerful reminder. I know we all know this, but we forget in the rush of our daily lives. We need to keep this forefront in our minds, perhaps a daily affirmation of some sort. The medieval monks used to keep a skull on their desks for that reason, though that would be going a bit far. Maybe a reminder in the google calendar that shows up on the daily agenda sent to email?

  47. posted by Lilliane P on

    Another note. Reading the posts above mine here, I’m proud to be following a blog with such wonderful people. Thank you all.

  48. posted by Joy on

    Many thanks for this post. I tend to blast people when I don’t agree (like I did on this morning’s other post). You’re right, you never know what’s going on. I give people that grace at the cafe I work at, but I think it’s easy for me to hide behind a blog comment. Thoughts and prayers today…

  49. posted by Jennifer on

    Thanks for the reminder Erin. I have a work friend who will be starting chemo on Monday. Thinking of her stops me from griping about meaningless crap in my day. All the best to you and your friend.

  50. posted by Claire - Matching Pegs on

    Amen, So well said Erin.

    I have lived a very similar experience with my sister, twice (Lymphoma as a child. Brain tumor as an adult).

    My brother also has terrible health (Schizophrenia).

    I try very hard to remind myself to be grateful for every ordinary happy day that comes my way.

    I have no burning ambitions in my life, apart from living an ordinary life, and connecting with the people around me. I have already won the “lottery” compared to my siblings, because I am healthy, and have been able to have a family of my own.

    I will be thinking of your friend, and all the people who are connected to her, as you wait nervously to see what is next.

  51. posted by Marjorie on

    So sorry to hear about your friend. I will keep her in my prayers.

    You are right – life is short and we tend to lose perspective until something like this reminds us of the important things in life. Your friend is in good hands at MD Anderson. My mom, a family doc, has referred many of her patients there with terrific results.

    Personally, I have seen some amazing recoveries from brain surgery. Years ago when I was in nursing school doing a clinical on a rehab floor, I had a patient who was recovering from surgery where doctors removed one of the worst kind of brain tumors. A few days post-op, she was alert, but couldn’t communicate with anyone. She needed help with everything. Over the next 6 weeks, I was witness to her amazing progress. With her fighting spirit, as well as the support of wonderful healthcare providers (doctors, nurses, therapists – OT & PT), she was up and about, laughing and smiling, ready to go home. It was truly a miracle.

    Take care…

  52. posted by Clara on

    I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, my prayers are with her.
    Very well expressed. I’m definitely a believer in cutting people slack.

  53. posted by Sharon on

    Wonderful post, you are so right! Your friend is in my prayers.

  54. posted by Mick Morris on

    Firstly, my best wishes for your friend, the comfort of caring and compassionate friends is needed by us all in our hours of need.

    Second… thank you. More people should remember that everyone has story, and something going on in their life. Hopefully for most people we meet these are minor in nature, but in reality for some they may be huge. Chances are you will never know if you aren’t in someway building a relationship with them.

    We sometimes need to see past the mask that people have on to realise what is happening for them.

  55. posted by Angie on

    Very powerful post…thank you for the reminder. I will be thinking of your friend.

  56. posted by Erica on

    Everyone has said such kind and apt things. I can only offer my own thanks for your poignant and thoughtful post; my prayers for your friend — and all of you; and a bit of reassurance that M.D. Anderson is among the very best cancer hospitals.
    … And to your friend, celebration in knowing that she is surrounded by people who love her dearly.

  57. posted by Cynthia Friedlob, The Thoughtful Consumer on

    So sorry to read this news about your friend, Erin, and I send both of you wishes for strength to get through this. Your post was wonderful on so many levels. Dramatic incidents like the ones you and some of your readers have described do force a re-evaluation of what’s important. It’s definitely not clutter of any kind.

  58. posted by Lana - {Daring Clarity} on

    God, thank you so much for this message! And I am praying for your friend!

  59. posted by chris on

    so do i. hope she gets well and fast.

  60. posted by trillie on

    What a truly great post. It’s true, sometimes you have to reflect what is really important to you, and remember that you cannot look inside another person’s head. And like Lilliane P said, when looking at the comments, I am thankful to have found this blog with all you marvellous people.

    I’ll be sending good thoughts for your friend and you :o)

  61. posted by gb on

    Lifelines–is the first word that came to mind after reading your post this morning. Hold on and keep close those who are dear. Be in contact as often as you can.
    Sending caring thoughts to you as you cope with this crisis.

  62. posted by Mike on

    I came here looking for tips to help my kids. Instead I found your touching post. I am a two time cancer survivor and I am sending all my thoughts and prayers towards you and your friend.

    God bless…

  63. posted by Kaz in Oz on

    We found out 2 weeks ago that my son’s first grade teacher, the one he has right now, has a brain tumour and though while benign, we are unsure when she’ll come back to the thing she loves – teaching. The kids are sucking it up at the moment and trying to deal with it. I felt so sad for my son, that he had just settled into a new school with a new group of friends and just got used to the teacher and now it all changes. She is always in our prayers, moreso now.

    A girl I work with came to me on Monday and told me that she had to take some time off to fly to New Zealand to see her MIL aged in her 90s who had a stroke over the weekend and is not expected to make it. I rearranged the roster and covered her shift myself for tonight and with others next week.

    Tonight though, I had to work while my husband was upstairs in the emergency department at the hospital where I work in dialysis, being treated for pneumonia (he’s been unwell and on oral antibiotics for 3 weeks). I know he was in the best hands and I was treating my patients with the best of care, but I couldn’t just drop everything to be with him. You see, someone else I work with decided yesterday to ring and say he wasnt coming to work that afternoon or today or forever (maybe his wife left him, maybe he won Lotto, who knows, no explanation was given). So there was no-one to work for me. If I hadn’t been there 10 patients couldn’t have their dialysis treatment since we work on a 10 patient ot 1 RN and one EN ratio. We are now 3 RN positions down.

    I went up to see him after I finished my shift (he’d kept me informed by text message) just as he was transferred to a ward for at least the weekend. I’ll go and see him tomorrow before I take both our boys (who fortunately are at my Mum’s) to birthday parties and then back to visit him. Let’s pray that he’s home for our youngest’s 5th birthday on Monday.

    We roll with the punches and deal with things as they happen. It would be lovely to say “no I can’t” sometimes. I’m now sitting to write the pewsheet for our church on Sunday and I’m going to have to go alone for the first time ever.

    So I’m keeping you and your friend in my prayers, and asking for a little one here.

  64. posted by lindsay on

    So sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with your friend. It is sad that we often do not stop and think about what other people could be going through. Enjoy life now and make time for what is important to you. As a hospice nurse I try to do this in my personal life. I have had to many patients tell me they should have spend more time doing what they loved…And trying to remember that other people in the world may have it worse than you.

  65. posted by Dallee on

    I’ve submitted a prayer at

  66. posted by Gloria on

    I’m sorry for the difficulties your friend is facing and the toll it will take on everyone else. Good thoughts are being sent to all.

  67. posted by Trece on

    Standing in agreeing prayer with all here for your friend’s 100% recovery from this, and for comfort for you and her family. Please keep us posted on her condition.

  68. posted by Joanne on

    Dear Erin,
    I am praying for your friend,for you and all who know and care for her.
    Our family was hit with double shocks over the Thanksgiving through New Years holidays. First my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery the day after Thanksgiving then just as he was feeling well enough to return to work we were told our youngest daughter, 21 yrs. old, had a rare liver cancer. She had surgery Jan.7th. We have had many many people praying for us. Both are doing well. They both still have physical and emotional issues to deal with but they are healing. We know the awful pain of worry and even grief at the loss of our vision of what was around the corner for all of us. It all changed within weeks. I pray with all my heart for her full recovery.
    Through all of our difficulties wonderful things happened too. People surprised us at every turn with their concern and kindness. Be open and aware of the positive in the experience. I hope you have a faith to turn to…ours helped us enormously.

  69. posted by Pat on

    I am praying for your loved one and you. Thank you for the needed reminder that life is so precious and that the little acts of kindness we do for strangers may come at a time when they are facing their darkest hour.

  70. posted by deborah on

    Could not have said this better myself and have said, the same on many occasions. It can not be said enough times. My prayers are with you and your friend. Think positive…it can make all the difference in the world.

  71. posted by Jill on

    You and him/her will definitely be in my thoughts.

  72. posted by Jennifer J. on

    Thank you for reminding us how precious life is.

  73. posted by Jill on

    Regarding carrying around bottled up anger….remember that having both too much love and too much hate for people can destroy. If you love EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE, it WILL destroy you, the same goes with hate.

  74. posted by Diane on

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your friend at MD Anderson. Houston isn’t always a place that people think of as a great place to live, but my philosophy down here is that, at least if we do get sick, we have the BEST Cancer center around! She is in wonderful, very capable hands, lucky for her to get into their program – they are a great place to be, if one has to go through such a terrible ordeal…
    If you need someone ‘local’ to assist in anyway, please contact me directly. I used to be part of their “Ground Angels” program that provided free ground transportation for patients flown in for treatment, via their free “Air Angels” program, where private pilots flew their private planes to bring people in for treatment, that could not afford to get here otherwise.

  75. posted by K on

    I can’t add anything else to the comments above, just echo them. I try to remember that each day is a gift, but there’s often so much “stuff” in the way. Thank you so much, Erin, for helping us every day to take steps to remove and navigate through this stuff — physical, mental, and emotional. Take good care.

  76. posted by Jay on

    Thanks Erin. A good reminder of what’s important. Wishing you and your friend the best.

  77. posted by April Driggers on

    AMEN SISTER! And God be with you and your friend during this challenging time! I just found out a very good friend had breast cancer and underwent surgery without telling ANY of her friends b/c she didn’t want them to [email protected]#[email protected]#$~ Isn’t that WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR?! However, I am not even the most bit peeved or upset about it — it’s just the kind of person she is — but that doesn’t mean that I can’t institute a prayer vigil for her during her time of healing and still be there for her spiritually until she’s ready to talk to us all about it!

  78. posted by brooke @ claremont road on

    I’m so sorry for what your friend is going through, and I’ll be keeping her in my thoughts. Here’s to a full recovery.

    And thank you for the reminder that life is short and to cut people some slack.

  79. posted by Mike OD - Fitness Spotlight on

    “Stop cluttering up your life with things that don’t matter to you. Take responsibility for your life and what you have chosen to include in it.”

    Amen! As a lover of all things simple and worthwhile in life, we need to keep this in mind…which is so hard to do once we get all caught up back in the “daily grind”.

    Life is simple, it is us who make it so complicated. It’s that complications that lead to more worry and fear…fear of losing something. We are so focused on “not dying”, than many forget to actually start living in the first place.

    Simple foods, simple activities, simple work and simple living each day in appreciation for what I already have is what I strive for…and it’s a daily journey of awareness and understanding into myself. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

  80. posted by Alexandra on

    2 things:

    1) A few years ago, a friend had an emergency highly invasive surgery due to a possible adrenal cancer (extremely fast growing with a high-mortality rate). Doctors removed a kidney, as well as sections of other organs, & all of the tumor (thankfully). She is well now, though while she was in the hospital, those of us who didn’t want to spend time in the hospital went to her house and cleaned like there was no tomorrow. She was a cluttering hoardy packrat. And while it didn’t permanently change her habits, a few people’s neurotic need to fix, clean, do and unclutter helped the healing process for both Lisa and her support group, immensely.

    You never know what to say in a situation like this, but sometimes doing something simple like pitching in and doing the laundry/dishes/hanging up photos in a friend’s room can mean the difference between feeling all alone and feeling surrounded by well-wishers.

    2) While I hope your friend recovers, recognizing that we are not immortal and these words may help someone else…I listen to the Randy Pausch book (read by the amazing Eric Singer) every year around my birthday. In it, it talks of learning how to say goodbye. One particular story has stuck with me: Krishnamurti, a spiritual leader in India who died in 1986, was once asked what was the most appropriate way to say goodbye to a man who was about to die. He answered: “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”

  81. posted by DianaD on

    I am praying for healing and comfort for your friend.
    Thank you for the article and thoughts.
    Our son had a life-threatening illness, and we had many times we had to get him to the ER… so I use that as my heart-stance when ppl drive crazy… “They may need to rush their own child to the ER”
    Our response is totally up to us.
    Many blessings

  82. posted by Claudia on

    This is a great post, and so true. Since I found out that my mom has cancer, priorities have shifted, and I find myself being more forgiving and kind. Good luck to your friend.

  83. posted by Lou on

    @ Kaz in Oz. What a pile-up of awful events! I do hope you catch a break soon. Meanwhile, you’re in my prayers.

  84. posted by irsihbell on

    “Tell your friend that in his death, a part of you dies and goes with him. Wherever he goes, you also go. He will not be alone.”
    I love this, it’s possibly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.
    Through all of these stories of pain and sorrow I hear such positivity and strength and beauty. I am in awe.

  85. posted by SimplyJo on

    As someone who knows exactly what you are going through I had to post this comment. Tomorrow I run a half marathon in aid of Brain Tumour UK raising money toward research in this country which is much needed. I wish you and your friend all the very best during this challenging time. It is so wonderful to hear about the reputation of the hospital she is being treated in over in the US. You are so right in your post – my moto now is ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’. All the very best…

  86. posted by SimplyJo on

    Sorry I meant to add – please take care of yourself Erin through this also. I was 36 weeks pregnant when my family member was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and I neglected my own health. It seemed so insignificant in comparison. As I said I wish you all the very best…

  87. posted by Jo on

    Life can change in an instant. It changed for a dear family member of mine, and I’ve been so aware of that ever since.
    @ Kaz in Oz – wishing you strength and comfort and hope.

  88. posted by Claycat on

    Erin, I’m so sorry about your loved one! I will pray for her speedy recovery.

    Kaz, I pray that your husband gets well quickly and makes it to the birthday. I’m sorry about your son’s teacher as well. You are having a struggle! Take care!

  89. posted by gypsy packer on

    Take care of yourself and your friend. Wishing both of you a good outcome.
    Thank you for the reminder that some people, like volcanoes, vent under stress.

  90. posted by schmei on

    Thank you for this post. I’m keeping your friend in my thoughts and prayers.

    Someone I love dearly who is pregnant with a very much anticipated baby just got some scary news about complications, and I’ve been carrying my worry and prayers for her and her husband and the baby around with me this weekend, too.

    You’re so right. You never know what people are going through… but we’re all going through life, so the only certainty is that it’s not all easy.

    Sending prayers and good thoughts to your friend. And to you.

  91. posted by Nine on

    Thank you for this post and I hope your friend will be able to make a good and speedy recovery.

    When I read this post it felt like a punch in the solar plexus. A friend of mine recently heard that he has an aggressive form of cancer. He has been in treatment for the past few weeks but is now home once again. Most likely he does not have much time left. Hearing this news and going to see him made me realise how life can change from one moment to the next.

    Ever since I heard the news I have tried to enjoy every single moment of every single day. When something or someone annoys me, I deliberate and decide whether it is worth my energy and time to be annoyed. Most of the time I decide that there are better things I could be doing.

    Whatever happens (we are still hoping for some kind of miracle regarding my friend’s illness) my friend shows me that it is better to enjoy every moment than to regret later that I rushed my life.

    Thank you again for this post. And I wish you and your friend lots of strenght and good luck in the recovery process!

  92. posted by Anne on

    Two of my Christian gf’s had brain tumors. They discovered them a year ago. One died (peacefully in her sleep) last week after major surgery, chemo and prayer. One is doing great, after major surgery, chemo and prayer. You just don’t know God’s plans. You’re right, carpe vitam.

  93. posted by Amber on

    My prayers go out to you and your friend. I had brain tumor surgery just a year ago. I’m a teacher and missed two months of work last Spring and had radiation in the summer. I’m lucky that it wasn’t cancer but was shocked when told it was a big as my fist and I’d had it 10 – 20 years!!

    It was the scariest year of my life but also a very blessed and humbling one. So many people prayed for me and helped me — and many made me laugh too. And yes I learned to appreciate life, friends, family and the little things even more — we just never know what tomorrow will bring so enjoy today, and be with those you love.

  94. posted by Katie Morton on

    I truly hope all goes well with your friend’s recovery.

    I just wrote a post on focusing on what matters. Your post here just made me go back and re-read it to make sure I’m airtight.

  95. posted by Leslie on

    Thank you for an excellent post putting things in perspective. I hope your friend’s surgery is successful and she has a speedy recovery.

  96. posted by letitia on

    I thought this post was poignant when I read it a few weeks ago. I even posted it on the corkboard above my laptop so I would remember to think about it.

    And then this weekend, I learned that someone very close to me has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is meeting with her surgeon today to know what her options are. I’m terrified for her but also hoping for the best.

    I wanted to share this only because I wanted to let you know how even more meaningful your post is to me now. Thank you!

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