We met one Sunday, she was sitting in the back row of our women's group, alone, holding a beautiful baby boy. I was new, didn't want to sit alone, so sat next to her. She spoke little English, I spoke little Spanish, and we became best of friends. That was almost 20 years ago. We share nearly everything with each other. If her husband wants to tease her, he tells her she's too American, and I've taught her too many American ways. But I've learned from her - she's taught me the ways of her culture. Betty and family are the model family for how folks can integrate into a culture different than theirs - adapt, adopt, move forward, acknowledging heritage along the way.
Betty's red and white roses throughout my chemo were a perfect way to count-down and acknowledge this journey. She has held my arm many times as we've walked this past winter - we hold each other up during our storms.
Betty is one of the most compassionate women I know - she knows how to reach out, how to serve quietly, and how to make someone feel special. She is tender, generous, and honest.
A couple of weeks ago Betty told me that her sister-in-law had breast cancer. Her SIL's husband (Betty's brother) is having a difficult time accepting his wife's choice of receiving chemo and radiation. This brother and his wife lost a son 10 years ago to brain cancer. There is real fear in their lives. I told Betty to count me in, I would help Betty help her SIL.
SIL's scalp was aching, hair was falling out, so Betty called me. Crap - I am sure I will have plenty of flashbacks over the years, but this was my first, and I bawled. We went with SIL as she tried on wigs, decided on one, gathered hats and scarves. Then we sat SIL down, and as I talked with SIL about the in's and out's of breast cancer, Betty cut her hair. I chattered away, remembering the day my hair left my head, trying to keep the sorrow out of my voice.
We need each other. No man is an island. We are so dependent on each other - and that is not bad. SIL left Friday evening with a clean and non-aching scalp - oh she has beautiful features - she looks like an Aztec princess, something not evident with hair on her head. She put the wig on, put on a huge smile, we hugged, and she left.
Betty and I took deep breaths, acknowledged what had just happened, reminded each other that we are indeed sisters, and moved forward. Moved forward - moving on to help the next brother or sister in need - that's what we do, that is most definitely what Betty does. She is goodness.
When Betty turned 40, she gave birth to child #5, Natalie.