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Chapter 17 - Dancing Beyond Cancer - A Ray of Light in the Darkness

Chapter 17 -------- A Ray of Light in the Darkness

In the aftermath of Danielle’s family, there was a lot to discuss. We scrapped the plans of traveling across the country, but we hadn’t planned on staying either. The issue we still had with Sedona was that we hadn’t received the support we needed. Danielle was now more willing to reach out for help. Her renewed faith in me had reassured her that I wouldn’t act a fool. Danielle began to trust me again.

Despite my new strength, I still needed more help. The demands on myself were only getting more intense. Danielle needed more assistance with everything in her life. The showers, bathroom visits, and even walking required constant aid. Danielle still did not like having to depend on others, but a sense of humility had developed now. We reached out for help from the community. The response solved most of our problems.

Problems that were not related to her health were still major priorities. Sadly the visit from her family was not the end of their involvement. So much was left unresolved from her family’s visit. Danielle was still in communication with her sister after they left. A desire for peace and cooperation were all that Danielle wanted from her family.

The day after her family left, Danielle received a call from her sister complaining about their visit. Danielle explained that her sister was complaining that a friend didn’t introduce themselves when she stopped by specifically to help Danielle. There were ten new people in the house that day, which would have been overwhelming for anyone. However, her severe allergy to Andora was the main reason for a quick visit. The lack of consideration of others was clear. But that wasn’t all she had to complain about.

Her sister continued to complain that she was also upset that Danielle had asked her nephew at one point to leave the room. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal considering that Danielle wanted to talk with my family and me. I don’t even remember what we discussed, but it was still Danielle’s decision. To have her sister accost her for making that decision was equally as upsetting. Danielle couldn’t believe that her sister would call to upset her even further. It was mindboggling to me that her sister would react this way.

I did have at least some understanding to why she was reacting this way, but it still didn’t excuse the behavior. The whole family was upset that Danielle had decided not to make the trip across the country. The lack of understanding led to much emotional tension between her family. Everyone was emotionally compromised and showed it. I had similar problems that I ultimately fixed. Their behavior continued without fail.

Since Danielle had lost all faith in her family, she removed them immediately from the will. The discussion about leaving the house to them was not finalized, but now it never would be. Danielle also based her decision off of a statement made the last night we all went to the hospital. She found out from her nieces and nephews that their mom and grandmother were discussing excluding her brother from the will.

Excluding her brother would have made it far easier for them to sell the house after Danielle passed. Danielle couldn’t believe the further lies and deceit. Considering that Danielle did not want the house sold were she to pass, this was heartbreaking. On top of that, she hadn’t heard from the girl she was first going to leave the house to, not a word. This was someone who was supposed to be a daughter to her but for some reason hadn’t reached out. Who could Danielle leave her house to, who would also honor her wishes?

Danielle decided to reach out to the friend who helped us financially. The first thing Danielle shared was how bad the experience ended with her family. She was disgusted by their behavior and also explained the issue we were having with the house. Danielle wished for her legacy to live on and needed someone to take the mantle. In her panic, she laid down a list of desires that would have scared most people. I felt that Danielle was expecting too much from her friend.

First off, her friend was having a seriously hard time talking about Danielle passing. I could tell at the hospital that it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to be present as Danielle made a choice to stop treatment. She even offered to pay for a trip to Europe if Danielle felt that there was a chance. Obviously, if we couldn’t make it across the country, Europe was out of the question.

Danielle was also going to be the third close person in her friend’s life that was going to pass. Danielle would constantly share with me the struggles her friend had with sudden losses. Danielle had been someone who had helped her through those losses, and now she would lose her too. I completely sympathized because it is always hard to lose someone who is such an important part of your life.

Danielle was a very important person in her friend’s lives and someone who was a huge asset for emotional support. For years Danielle had been an honest friend because she was true to herself. Most of all, she never used her friend because of her incredible wealth. Danielle lived a modest lifestyle that she took pride in creating and supporting herself. This trait was one reason that Danielle had become such a trusted confidant.

Danielle and I would discuss the issues that come with being very wealthy. I had watched wealthy people get taken advantage of because someone is trying to get an easy ride. So often people make huge promises, and when the check comes due, they are unable to settle-up. Few people I find are willing to do the work it takes to be successful, and when people are playing with other people’s money, they are even less inclined to put in the extra work. Too many people want the free ride, and often at someone else’s expense.

We watched as one person tried to take advantage of her kindness by possibly using Danielle to make it happen. Although we never allowed the meeting to take place, the intentions were clear. People are willing to do crazy actions for personal gain. I have a problem when it is at someone else’s expense.

It was appalling how people will mistreat someone to take advantage of their money, and Danielle had dozens of stories of this happening to her friend. So when Danielle was approaching her with giving her the house, so that she could fix it up and turn it into a dance school for little girls. Danielle wanted her friend to foot the whole bill. It had Danielle all lit up, and I could tell this was her goal if money weren’t an issue. It would have taken me years to save up enough to have the house outfitted and ready to be a full-time dance school. I wish I had the means, but I didn’t have that, or the experience needed to make it work on my own.

It was the following day that the full reaction to the circumstances came full circle. I was really worried that Danielle was overstepping her wishes and putting obligations on someone, that couldn’t handle the situation. I was entirely correct about this intuition, but I never realized how it might have turned out. The reaction to Danielle’s wishes was unexpected.

I knew the weight of Danielle taking a turn for the worse was not going over well with Danielle’s friend. I could see it in the frustration she had to get Danielle to pursue additional treatment options. She couldn’t accept that Danielle was going into Hospice and would be passing at some point. I could hear the desperation in her pleas to convince Danielle not to give up.

Incredible stress leads people to do things that we wouldn’t imagine doing under normal circumstances. This woman had been such a friend to Danielle throughout the entire healing process. She was our financial security and the one who said that she would be there for Danielle to support her in anything she needed. It gave us a sense of security to have that support, especially since I couldn’t work while caring for Danielle anymore. Danielle and I depended on that support.

Danielle’s dying wish of having her house turned into a dance studio, didn’t come back with the reception that Danielle was expecting. To my surprise, Danielle handled the conversation with such grace and ease, even though I could tell she was devastated and hurt by the conversation. The hardest part Danielle had to face was that her friend was unable to be with her through the dying process.

The way it came across was probably not the way it was supposed to be received. However, that didn’t change how Danielle felt. Danielle felt that her friend would only continue to be part of her life if she was continuing treatment. On top of that, she made Danielle feel bad about the treatments that she wouldn’t continue to take. I found this to be a low blow even from my point of view.

The reason that we had purchased the extra curcumin treatments was that it was on the possible FDA ban list. Our Naturopathic Doctor informed us that it could be made unavailable at any time, considering the improvement we saw right away we didn’t want to be left without a successful treatment option. The friend who paid for all the treatments agreed to purchase the maximum amount. Danielle had used most of it, but there was about nine hundred dollars’ worth of product that had gone unused. Danielle didn’t respond with anything but respect and kindness while on the phone. It was after the call that her true emotions poured out to me.

She first off was devastated that her friend had, in essence, abandoned her only two days after having her family abandon her. It felt like a knockout blow and just put Danielle into a deeper state of depression. Now financial stressed returned. Thankfully we had more than enough for several months at our current expense. How long that would last was now an unknown factor. The unknown was not something that Danielle could control, which worried her.

The other issue that Danielle had a problem with was that her friend made her feel bad about not doing the remaining treatments. To her friend's defense, she was doing everything in her power no matter how desperate to get Danielle to continue treatment. I had done similar behavior before I accepted Danielle’s decision to stop treatment. I sympathized with her friend also considering the amount of death she had already experienced, but sadly it still didn’t excuse what had occurred.

Danielle was devastated, and we had another huge hit to her morale in less than a week. I did everything in my power to help Danielle not spiral into a deep depression. We would have to talk about those issues to help her move past them. Personally, it was really easy to talk about some topics while others were far more taxing.

Thankfully, I was getting far better at controlling my anger around Danielle and started to recognize it early. Catching myself before I became upset would allow me to excuse myself for a quick smoke. I found the new technique would quickly bring me back to a calm place to continue the discussion. Despite more breaks, I was there more for my wife. I was even able to help Danielle come to terms with her friend abandoning her. Some people are equipped to help those that are dying while others can’t handle the emotional stress. I was someone who was unequipped but willing to learn no matter the circumstances, so I had a ton of sympathy.

It was several days later that I lost almost all respect for our former benefactor. Danielle had stopped communicating with her friend because of what occurred. This sudden lack of communication led to a nasty text in response. As much as I would like to explain the detail of the trauma caused because of the respect and gratitude that I have towards the woman who helped us, I won’t go into much explanation.

I read the text, and immediately, Danielle could tell something was wrong. I couldn’t talk about it, but I told her that there was absolutely no way that I would let her read that text. I spent twenty minutes composing a response to the text, which was not a smooth process. I was beyond livid, my anger was ready to pop, and Danielle wasn’t making it any easier for me. After about ten minutes, I had to ask Danielle to be quiet until I finished. I promised I would read her the response but not the original message. Danielle’s curiosity was satisfied, giving me the space I needed to compile a proper reply.

When I completed the message and read it back to her, Danielle couldn’t believe the response that I had put together. Danielle was so impressed at the words that I articulated. I didn’t want to disrespect this person who had helped us so much, but I couldn’t let Danielle be disrespected in such a way either. The response was with the highest gratitude and gave truthful reasons to counter the accusations. The message gave Danielle a huge clue to the content of the original message without having to read words that would have cut far deeper.

The way I had handled the situation gave Danielle a lot of confidence in my ability to handle a stressful situation with grace. She was glad that I was not being vindictive or mean in return. I realized that acting that way would have done nothing but bring problems into Danielle’s and my life. We had enough problems without creating more.

Danielle was upset, but at least we maintained peace between us. A peace that I would soon ruin again. It wasn’t something I did intentionally and was something that Danielle had asked me to do, but the way I did it was the problem that we faced. Danielle wanted me at some point to pay her friend back for the IVs that had gone unused. Danielle did, even though she was upset, feel bad about not using all the IVs. It wasn’t something she wanted me to handle right away, but I started brainstorming.

In my quest to do what Danielle wanted, I had come up with a plan. I had decided since we had at least five months of bills covered, that we could spare a little bit from our emergency fund. After several conversations with the ND, who was also mutual friends with our benefactor, I decided to ask her if I could pay for the vials privately. I also wanted to make sure that the treatment was used on one of Danielle’s friends. This friend was one of the people that had been there since the beginning, and due to her health problems was unable to see Danielle as often as she wanted. I knew she could benefit from the treatment. I thought I figured it all out.

The ND could pay the friend back secretly because I didn’t want her to know it was me right away. Also, Danielle’s friend would benefit from the treatments, and everyone would be happy about the situation. I thought it solved all the problems, but I didn’t want to tell Danielle right away. I wanted to surprise her. However, the next time she complained about the situation, I told her the truth, but I never expected her response.

First off, the fact that I had done anything without her approval, was the main issue. Then because I had done it with our money, she was even more irate. Danielle didn’t care what I had done with the money, she didn’t care what the money was being used for, and she didn’t care about my intentions either. The only question was if I could get the money back. After Danielle sent a nasty text to the ND, asking for the money back, I quickly went over to her office to pick it up. I apologized for everything and took full responsibility.

This betrayal of trust was not something that our relationship needed. Danielle again lost faith in my capacity to care for her. At this point, I completely regretted the decision I had made. It was an error that I could never have anticipated. I was truly ashamed, and Danielle made sure I paid for that mistake. It was clear that Danielle’s concerns about our finances were far more serious than I previously thought.

Thankfully my dad arrived just in time to help with the new issue. It was clear that Danielle was concerned that I would improperly use the funds, I had zero problems with complete transparency. I wasn’t trying to hide anything, and even the thing I hid wasn’t supposed to be a permanent secret. I wasn’t there to cause Danielle problems I was there to help. I would never have made the decision that I made had I understood the consequences. There was no way I would repeat this mistake. Assurance from my father and giving him full access to my bank statements made Danielle feel better.

I could stop making errors, but I also needed to make sure that I didn’t burn out again. It was time to enlist a little help from Danielle’s close friends. The possible list of individuals wasn’t very large, but it was time for us to reach out. My father was a big help in making sure that Danielle took those steps. He could see the problems we were having, and some help was crucial to giving us the best opportunity for success. Too long, I had set myself up for failure, and now was not a time to fail.

Thankfully four women, who Danielle approved of, stepped up right away. They were four of the most intelligent and driven women in town. Danielle easily outshined everyone in tiny little Sedona. Each woman equally admired Danielle for the strength and courage that she had shown her whole life. This respect was why they knew it was important to step up and be there for her in her time of need. Three of them were parents of students or former students. They all understood that young or ill-equipped students were not allowed over because they were committed to helping Danielle.

We decided that the four women would rotate daily visits to relieve me from duty. That way, I could run errands or grab a bite to eat without feeling overly anxious. I noticed that as Danielle’s health declined, the concept of leaving her home alone, was increasingly worrisome. Now that I could get a real break, I had more strength than ever. I hadn’t realized how much constant stress I had been under until it was gone.

Danielle was finally getting a break from the stress too. The uncertainty of how the end of her life would proceed scared her. She wanted to stay in her house because she loved it so much. The comfort she felt at home was incomparable. Now that she had decided to stay in Sedona and we had the proper support, it was a real possibility. It made me feel good to be able to give her something she desired. Danielle wanted to die on her terms.

We were making some serious progress towards improving the circumstances we faced. Danielle and I even shared a renewed level of intimacy as our relationship improved. It is truly incredible to find beauty and love in places that you wouldn’t expect. Never would I have expected that after months of pain and trauma that we could still have such an intimate connection to each other. We always found our ups despite all the downs.

In one moment, we would spend hours in the shower while constantly reapplying medicines. While in the next moment we could spend time just talking truthfully and honestly about our feelings for each other. Our love was always growing stronger. Even if it appeared to disappear from time to time, it always returned brighter than ever. Love is a powerful force, and I was starting to see the power it was having in our lives. As we let the love in from those in our lives, we saw more help appear.

It was about this time that the universe graced us with one of the most beautiful individuals that I have ever met. It wasn’t even the ideal circumstances, but it was highly synchronistic. The day we met this angel was also the day her mother was diagnosed with cancer — obviously a hard day for anyone. To our surprise, when the ND asked if she could bring her in to say hello, we accepted immediately. Danielle had met her previously in passing, but now Grace officially entered our lives. I will refer to her as Grace considering the amount of Grace that she brought into our lives.

Grace was an angel from the moment we met her. She never once mentioned her mother's diagnosis despite us overhearing her talking to the ND. The entire short interaction was very pleasant. By the time we finished chatting, she was offering to help in any way that she could. Danielle and I were blown away by the offer.

This person had shown us what it truly meant to be a positive influence in other people’s lives. Not one person had displayed this level of compassion and caring, while on top of that being a practical stranger to both of us. We exchanged information, and she asked if we would include her in the rotation of helpers. Danielle and I approved wholeheartedly.

Grace had shown a level of character and mannerisms that I admired. A selfless giving was outdone only by the calm demeanor she carried in herself. Grace gave herself to Danielle in a way that no other person, including myself, had done. Grace was someone who I knew I was ready to learn from, and the universe was providing me the perfect solution to improve myself.

I found out that Grace acted exactly the way that Danielle wanted. Grace quickly became Danielle’s favorite due to the positive impact she would have every time she visited. I admired her demeanor so much that I put every effort into emulating Grace. My whole life, I’ve observed then emulated people who I admire. I felt I had an opportunity to learn from a master. Grace was a gift from the universe to help Danielle and me.

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