Recently, I was eye-witness to a true story that began with the following invitation:
"The Thornhill Family cordially invites you to a special celebration for Cynthia Thornhill on Sunday, December 7, 2008. We welcome you to our home to visit with Cynthia. We are putting together a book of memories that honors Cynthia. If you would like to take this opportunity to contribute, please email a little story, memory, picture or your personal message to be included in this book."
The invitation was sent by Reggie Thornhill, Cynthia's husband.
For some reason, when I read the invitation, somewhere between the lines, I felt a heavy weight. When I inquired more on the reason behind the celebration, I was told the sad news: “Cynthia has breast cancer, which she has defeated for 13 years. Unfortunately, it has returned and spread into her bones. She only has a couple of months to live.”
On the Sunday of the celebration, I followed along with a crowd into the Thornhill home in Carrolton, Texas, to visit Cynthia one last time. Their home was fully decorated for Christmas; the tree sparkled, carols coated the atmosphere, homemade food warmed the tables, and Cynthia received hugs and kisses from everyone. I was in line for quite a while, waiting patiently for my turn to say hello and “goodbye” to Cynthia. As I moved closer and closer to her, I tried to stop time from passing. It would be my first and last time to meet Cynthia, to share her peaceful smile and to hear her weak but vivacious voice say “Nice to meet you, Milly!” Since Cynthia was sitting, I kneeled down to hold her hands. They trembled slightly but her eyes smiled kindly at me.
“Cynthia, I am the founder of Live Wright Society for women. I would like to put your story on our website so that we may inspire others.”
Cynthia’s tiny voice encouraged me. “Sounds good,” she nodded, “I like that.”
“May I take a picture with you?” I was hoping she would say yes, but there was silence. Then, she smiled at me once again and slowly scooted over so I could sit down next to her, and we shared a priceless moment together. At that point, I was touched from the bottom of my heart by how much Cynthia wished for one more chance to live; how much all of us wanted to keep her alive; how much Reggie tried to do for his wife; how many tears already flooded the Thornhill family; how Cynthia peacefully and courageously inspired us all to live while we can. Certainly Nien Cheng’s book was well written, but I am now newly recharged by the testament to the life and death of Cynthia Thornhill.
Cynthia left us on January 17, 2009, but she lives on in so many hearts.
My sincerest regards to Reggie and his family.