It was terminal, that's what the doctor said. Mary now had at most 12 months to live. What does anyone do with news like this? Most people would say knock at least three things off your bucket list, but Mary was a type of person who got on her bucket list at the age of 15 and knocked everything off.
She figured that that's the way you should always live anyway, she came to that attitude after two of her friends were killed in the car accident, with so much promise ahead of them and their young lives were snuffed out before they ever really had a chance to live. So, Mary, knowing that she could die any day, wanted to make sure that she did live while she was alive.
And that's now where she sits, having accomplished everything she ever set out to do and getting it done before the age of 45. Come up with another list that she can possibly get to complete in the next 12 months or maybe reconnect with other friends she lost contact with over the years.
Her husband and children will be devastated when they find out. She couldn't think how the best way to break the news would be. It's not like she can give her husband a kiss and then say, "Honey, I'm dying." Not the best way and there's no real no easy way to break news like this. She'll tell her husband first, the children are really young, 10 and 8 years old; she worries most about how the kids will cope. At least Mary and her husband were smart enough to make sure they were properly insured at 10 times her annual income so her husband can take some time off from work to deal with the loss and take care of the kids.
The kids were predictably and understandably devastated with the impending death of their mother; a lot of tears were cried, they just couldn't understand or accept that bad things sometimes happen to good people. And like most children, they thought their mom was the best person in the world.
Mary and her husband did the best they could to console their children, telling them that mommy would be looking down on them from heaven. Not something that a child really wants to hear, they want their mommy to still look down on them only because she was taller than them. They didn't want God to take her just yet, it just wasn't fair in their minds that their friends got to keep their mothers for years and years to come.
Mary and her husband went about breaking the news to their brothers and sisters, along with their children at the annual family gathering the month after the diagnosis. It was easier that way, rather than exhausting phone calls and a bulk email; all of that would have been so impersonal.
Everyone was saddened with the news that Mary was about to die.
Three months before her death Mary and her husband decided to have one last party for all friends and family, a celebration of life while she was still living. The theory, as the drumming great Buddy Rich said, you should give flowers to people while they are still living.
And it was such a lovely funeral, there was not a dry eye in the crowd, nor during the reception afterwards when people shared their stories of what a wonderful person Mary was. Her husband had always known that she was a special person to so many people; when you became a friend of Mary’s, you were a friend for life.