Yesterday I lost a friend to cancer. She was a court reporter, but not just any court reporter, one of my first ones. There I was a brand new attorney heading into my first deposition scared out of my mind with not only opposing counsel across the table from me but a senior partner of my new firm sitting right by me. I was terrified. When I walked in I sat down keeping myself busy by setting out way too many pens and pretending to get organized so I didn’t have to look at others. Thoughts of “these seasoned attorneys are going to think I’m an idiot” kept going through my mind. She smiled, introduced herself to me and said to me “ Okay let’s show these old attorneys how to take a deposition”. When I was done she sent me a note to tell me that she couldn’t imagine how nervous I was but I did amazing.
Over the next 15 years she was a constant in my depositions. She knew that if it was a simple case I’d be 47 minutes on my exam. She knew if it was a doctor deposition I’d come with some research I found on some condition to try and get the doctor on my side. She laughed that I tended to get the crazy cases, and she always built me up. She was the first one to tell me that she loved that I was so down to earth in a profession where most aren’t.
Then she was diagnosed with cancer. For awhile I didn’t even know she was dealing it. After all I only saw her for 15 minutes here and there at depositions. She never brought it up. I heard from another person but she never changed. Then she came to one in a hat to cover the fact she lost her hair and as she walked in she simply kept the conversation about my kids and my life. “Let’s not talk about all this” she’d always say and we’d talk about one of our silly conversation topics. Her body had cancer but her mind never did. She fought so silently.
I would come in to depositions proudly declaring my battle accomplishments of “hey I ran a mile can you believe it!!” But she, while fighting much larger battles never praised herself when she succeeded. She fought quietly but she fought hard.
Her battle is now over. She worked right up to just a couple months before her death. She kept going that long… never wanting to step away from her normal.
Since yesterday she has been on my mind. She battled something I can’t even imagine. She had to look in her family’s eyes knowing that she wasn’t going to get to see how their stories turn out. When I look in my kids eyes when they head to school I get sad knowing I won’t see them all day… I can’t even imagine looking at them knowing I’d have to say goodbye. She had to hear doctors give her a timeline on her life. Here I am at nearly 40 with so many plans for my timeline. She had to go to bed each night knowing that her own story was going to be cut short. I think of my future all the time… she had to focus on her present as she was not dealt a future.
I didn’t see her out of the professional world but she has made such an impact on me. You know what I’ll always remember? You know what will stay with me??
She never quit.
She kept going with all those battles. Not only that but she kept going like nothing even happened. She fought. Every day. She sat in all those depositions listening to me talk about my growing children…about my future. No jealously, no looks of “those aren’t real problems” when I told her about the “battles” I was dealing with. She never felt sorry for herself. She talked about her cancer like it was an afterthought. She cheered me on when my biggest struggle was fighting off a piece of pizza not a horrible disease. She smiled, she laughed with me even though behind the scenes she had to be going through hell. SHE LIVED even though death was all around her fighting her at every turn.
It reminded me that if she could do that… If she could fight and live her life without complaint with all she had to deal with who am I to ever even think about quitting or focusing on my “princess problems”???
So today at OTF it was my beloved power day and we had to push ourselves to hold a higher speed during the workout. Halfway through the workout I wanted to quit and slow down. It was a “battle”. But this time I was grateful that holding speed on a treadmill was the current battle of my life.
I thought of my friend. I thought of my Step Dad who also lost his battle with cancer a few years ago. I thought about how hard they both fought to just live when their bodies didn’t want them to. I thought about how they had to watch their bodies fail and there I was on a treadmill where my mind was failing me but my body certainly was not. Who was I to quit with my beloved angels watching from above??
So yeah I held my pace and for Good measure I added .1 to my normal speed.