You Gave Me Life: Joellen’s Story
Joellen Reichenbach, owner of Select Sales / Creative Marketing Solutions, is a highly focused and driven business professional, and one of the kindest people with concern for our community and nonprofit missions that you’ll ever meet. We thank Joellen for sharing the following personal excerpt, which describes the heartfelt impact cancer has had in her life while caring for a loved one with the disease.
In life, you say “Yes” to experiences without even knowing how much it will teach you until years later.
I had a dear friend that came to me and said, “I want to end the marriage I haven’t been happy with, to leave the large house that I can’t keep up with, and to close a business that drains my energy. I just want to live my life before I die from cancer. Can you help me?” she asked.
Without a shadow of a doubt I said, “Yes, my house is open and you will always have a place here when you are ready to live.” Even when she posed the simple question, “Will you take care of me while I am alive and even after I am gone?” The answer was still, “Yes.” I didn’t know how fast the short weeks we would be together would change my life forever.
As the caregiver, I told her, “remove all of the negative in your life, find peace and positive energy, you will have more time.” The reality was she did have enough time to experience laughter and love with me and my husband. We enjoyed her last Christmas together, and 18 days staying at the hospital with daily visits we helped each other see that there is more to life than the task list. We all long to be completed. It was the simple thing, that we had time to talk, reflect, and eventually die holding each other’s hands.
For just over a month, I learned what it was to feel pretty with the color pink, the laughter of a friendly drink, to watch a movie called “P.S. I love you” more than one time, to understand each other’s fears of death, to wish for a cure, and to the hope of seeing family members that haven’t been seen in years. At the end, sisterhood was all that we needed without even being blood sisters.
Cancer did rock my world, but without my friendship I would have never believed harder than I do today that I will see her again one day.
“You Gave Me Life”
You were someone’s mother
You were someone’s wife
You were someone’s daughter
You were someone’s friend
You were someone I will never forget and you will be the one to take my hand on my last breath.
– In loving memory of Teresa Cutolo Kaplan