A woman I met who was told she had a few months left to live

I wandered upon a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, California and sat on the patio to check email and use a little bit of wifi (while drinking coffee, of course). When I first ordered a coffee inside I noticed a woman wearing a snow cap speaking with a light, faintly voice to a barista, asking about what life in Santa Cruz was like for them. It was easy to notice she had a genuine compassion for people and encouraging thoughts to share with others.

“You have a beautiful soul,” she said to the bearded man behind the counter.

I sat outside on the patio at my laptop, when after a few minutes, the woman came over to me to (quite apologetically) ask if she could use my laptop to lookup a phone number. She said she was passing through town to pickup some her stuff that a friend who lived in Santa Cruz had been keeping for her. I gladly let her use my computer to find the information she needed in her email inbox.

I asked about her life and she quickly informed me that she had cancer and was given just 3 more months to live as prognosis from the doctors. It was now that I noticed her snow cap was covering her hairless scalp due to past treatment. I can only imagine what that must be like to live knowing someone in the position of authority, such as doctor, had given you that kind of information.

“What do you want most in life right now?” I asked.

She said she was on her way to Mexico to her favorite place she’d ever been where she wanted to live out the rest of her days. Crystal, I now knew her name to be, spoke of being completely and utterly present with every moment, and that 3 months, 3 years or 30 years, really didn’t make a difference to the joy that can be found within each and every moment.

She asked if I’d been to the redwoods yet and I said no. She asked if I’d like to go, as they were only a 20 minute drive away, so I decided to say yes and go. I met her traveling companion who sat in the back of the car and we went to the redwoods. Crystal practiced Yoga in the sunlight while I sat on a trunk of tree that had toppled over down a hill and simply sat in the present moment, as I had learned from Crystal’s story to do.

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