Just a thought… I try to avoid looking forward or backward and keep looking upward. [Charlotte Brontë]
Oh, my…. I have to thank you for your overwhelming support of Mike, Christopher and Sarah Cooper over the passing of dear wife and mom Deborah. They have thanked me – and you – for that journal and the responses yesterday. I know from personal experience just how far support like this can go; the quiet hugs and thoughts from people we’ve maybe never even met can mean so very much at a desperately sad time.
Thanks to the CHFI link, it was wonderful to be reconnected with people who were unaware I continue this journal. There’s no email list to sign up for; just come here Monday through Friday or go to my Facebook page for a daily link. It’s that easy. And I’ll be here as long as you are. The journals won’t always be this long, but my heart is so full….
The response many people who knew the Coopers personally have given to me and to their family is that they had no idea how sick Debbie was. That’s because, as Mike told me yesterday, Debbie could get news from her doctor that her lungs were so riddled with cancerous tumours that her x-rays looked like a snowstorm, but if she heard that a growth in her liver had shrunk, she’d tell everyone, not about her lungs, but about the fantastic news that a tumour was getting smaller! That is so Debbie. A glass half-full woman right to the end.
If anyone ever had a pocketful of sunshine, like the song goes, it was Debbie Cooper. I don’t just mean that metaphorically. She literally kept sunny messages in her pockets.
Earlier this year, Rob and I had a couple of opportunities to visit with and spend an evening and overnight with the Coopers. It always felt like family time with them and Debbie and I would make a point of doing something special together, whether it was visiting a spa for pedicures or going for a numerology reading and reiki or shopping then a bite at a sweet French bistro in Lakefield. They were always memorable outings, mostly because we just enjoyed each other’s company and would have laughs and catch up.
Debbie, as I’ve told you, loved her angels. She had angel cards, angel pins and angel readings; she always felt as if she was protected and guided by them. I know that she’s sent an army of them to help protect Mike, Sarah and Christopher during the weeks, months and years ahead. They’ll need each and every one of them without Debbie at their side.
When Debbie was transitioning out of her winter wear and into spring she’d write a little note and tuck it into the pocket of that coat or sweater that she wouldn’t be wearing until the seasons began to change again. The note would say “See you in the Fall” or whatever season would be fitting. It was her way of saying that cancer wasn’t going to be taking her – not yet, anyway – and that she fully expected she was going to be donning her cool weather coat again.
I love that memory of Debbie. She set her mind to beating cancer and that’s why I say that she did. She survived another five years after a diagnosis that was not good; she couldn’t take full chemotherapy (it gave her a heart attack) so she and her incredible team of doctors – starting with our own Rogers-based physician and friend Dr. David Satok – worked every angle they could to make sure she got to see the next season, and the one after that.
She had a wonderful trip-of-a-lifetime to stay in castles and wear her fascinators to dinner in the UK with Mike. She visited Christopher in Mexico and watched pastel sunsets. She’d take her paints and try to capture their beauty. She had every intention of joining us next April on our AMA Waterways Tulip Time river cruise from Amsterdam to Belgium.
Our prayers for Debbie’s good health didn’t come to fruition. She will only be with us in spirit on that cruise, while Mike plans to stay home and try to imagine a life without her. Those of you – those of us – who have lost loved ones know the impossible darkness of this time. I wish for Mike that he had a job like I did to return to every day; something that made an escape from the sadness possible, even if just for a few hours. I can’t say what’s happening with his Coop’s Classics (soon to be replaced with Christmas music on Saturdays anyway) and even if I did know, that’s not my news to tell.
I can tell you, though, that if Debbie had a wish for you, it would be that you would get your colon checked (as she did via colonoscopy, having gotten a clean bill of health just the year before her diagnosis) and for heaven’s sake don’t shy away from fecal testing. Take good care of your body – it’s never too late to change our ways – and always make plans for the future, no matter how uncertain it may be. Even if it’s just to make it to the next time you need to wear a beloved warm coat, its pockets filled with promises.
Not all of Debbie Cooper’s dreams could come true, but I know for a fact she’d want yours to.
Tomorrow, a comforting recipe that Debbie shared and is a hit with everyone who makes it.