“When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live” Stuart Scott
I was recently sitting at Angela’s desk looking for something and found one of her many lists. Ange had been making lists for years to hep with the effects of treatment. This one was titled – To Do Before –
I was hit with my initial sense of panic and questioned if I wanted to read this. After closing my eyes, deep breathing to relax, and talking out loud to Ange, my answer was yes. I don’t know when she made this list, but believe it may have been the past year. She had also asked me to make a list of things I wanted her to do.
The first item on the list was : Laugh.
I was struck by that. I wonder if she may have written this as a reminder to herself. She struggled in the past year with significant health challenges and changes; physical, emotional, and spiritual. This may have been her reminder to continue to find joy in those small moments. A reminder that is those joyful moments, as we both believed and she had learned, Angela was cured of cancer.
I wonder if it was also meant for those of use whose lives Angela touched, to find time to laugh amidst our grief.
Laughter was an important part of Angela’s life, finding joy in life both before and after cancer. She laughed often with joy during good times throughout her life. Angela’s laugh has always brought me joy and laughing together would fill my heart.
Laughter is also how we got through the harder times. Often during our drives home from Boston, after receiving news we didn’t want to hear, the humor would turn dark, but we would laugh. Laughter could be more helpful than the tears, sadness, anger, frustration and sense of being overwhelmed. Although there was plenty of that, there was still and always laughter. Angela was often told by people reading her blog that they would laugh and cry at the same time. I remember some chuckles as I sat by her bedside with a few of her friends, holding her hand and sharing stories. As Angela has said, “Laughter is healing.”
One afternoon, I was sitting in Angela’s rocker on her patio, writing in my journal about the list. It was one of those beautiful, peaceful afternoons, baby robins chirping as mama fed them, birds singing and critters scampering in the woods. The first dragonfly of the season landed on the table next to me and just stat on the edge watching me. Then a female cardinal arrived on the fence and sat watching me. I spoke to both of them and asked if I should make this a blog. I felt Angela’s big hug around me giving her approval to blog about her list and laughter.
There were many other items on her list. The one’s you would expect: lawyer, Life Ceremony, items to gift , tattoos she still wanted and others. But the first item was laugh.
It has been 2 years since Angela’s last blog. She started many but was never able to finish. Writing, which Angela loved, had become a struggle due to the effects of cancer and treatments. She would never post anything unless she was 100% happy with the result.
As an “observer” over the past 7 years Angela lived with cancer, one of the hardest things to watch is how the disease steals little bits of a person, making every day tasks and enjoyable activities more of a challenge. We spoke of this often. However, being Angela, she always found a was around the lost fragments to something better, but could not find a way around writing.
Angela is sending little, subtle messages and big bold, mischievous reminders that she is still with us and still laughing. Through our collective grief, there is comfort in that. With an open heart, Angela and Oskar will always be with us and she will always be laughing.
Angela Amoroso 4/5/79 – 3/21/21
Posted bu Carol Hordis