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There’s an American here who has terminal pancreatic cancer. Terminal in the sense of being at work two weeks ago and gone from this earth tomorrow. I can’t get her out of my head. Thirty four. Kids ages six and four, just like mine.

How do you say goodbye?

There was a flurry of activity in the first days after she got the diagnosis. The vegan friend insisted she go vegan, the woman studying Ayervedic herbs had lots of advice about turmeric and coffee enemas. She is religious, so there’s that to consider. We started cooking, then stopped when she stopped eating. The best intentions of a community that isn’t.

I’d never met her, but my husband was friendly with her at work. But it’s still too close for comfort. Close enough to make me think about what I would do, what I would want, if I was in her place.

How do you say goodbye?

There are three children in my son’s school who’s mother passed away from cancer last year. The oldest child pulled out all of her eyelashes and eyebrows after her mother died. They are just starting to grow back but her face has no light. The littlest one sits in the toddler room with her nanny, surrounded by boisterous mamas and children older than her enjoying a nurse and a cuddle. She sucks her thumb and stares off into space. I hug her but she shies away.

How do you say goodbye? How do you say goodbye in a way that will ease their pain? That will allow them to live a life that is not always scarred by this loss? That will allow them to remember how much you love them? That will preserve their innocence? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I do know that life isn’t fair, that it is cruel and heartbreaking and it will pull you under if you let it. It is easy to say “be grateful for every moment” but nearly impossible to do. I’ve thought about it a lot and my conclusion is that it all boils down to love. The more you love them now, every moment of every day, the more love they will have to carry them forward, no matter what lies ahead.