Saturday I posted about the song Brave by Sara Bareilles. The song is about being brave and being true to yourself by being wholly you. But it is also about being brave in the face of adversity. Saturday night I attended a fundraiser for a young woman who is dying from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Her aunt, Ivette is a co-worker. Our relationship is one of colleagues since we work in different offices, but our departments intersect quite a bit.
Several of us from work attended the fundraiser. We sat together as friends more than as co-workers. There were inside jokes and idle gossip, but there was also a solidarity that we were there for Ivette. We know Ivette from work, and we love Ivette. We want her to know that she is not alone as she faces this family tragedy.
It was difficult for me to attend. I wanted to be there more than anything else. I wanted to show support but was uncertain about what I might encounter; what could I say to this family? You see, while everyone’s life has a limit, Ivette’s niece has been given a death sentence all too early. What could I possibly say to show my support? While I understand the disease I cannot offer words of hope to someone who is dying. I can’t say “Hang in there. Things will be ok” because they won’t.
Jeannette is 30 years old, with two children and has been given months to live. She was there. She stood tall and proud. She worked her way through the room, stopping at each table to say “thank you” to the guests that had attended. There were hugs and pictures with friends. Aunt Ivette sat with us. Both she and Jeannette knew we were there for Ivette. In many ways the fundraiser was a celebration of Jeannette’s life. But it was also a time for her friends and family to say “good-bye.”
What struck me was how brave this young woman truly is. In the face of adversity she showed up. She is sick. She is dying. Yet she rallied her strength to come out for an evening event filled with people and entertainment. I am sure she was exhausted the next day. And she was bald. I was so proud of her. I know the courage that it took. Many people commented on the fact that she showed up bald. No wig. No scarf. No hat. Bald. One of my friends captured the moment when she said, “Look how beautiful she is.”
Yes, she is and always will be beautiful. And she is brave.