I was having a lovely day yesterday until I received news that a dear friend received a horrible diagnosis. I was not prepared for what I heard…neither was my friend.
At first, I had no words — for those of you who know me, this almost never happens. But when the words wouldn’t come, the tears did. I cried all the way home. Intermittent choking sobs. I said all the things that we all say when we get such news:
“It isn’t fair!”
“No, not that”
“So-in-so is such a good person!”
But immediately upon their utterance, the words all rang hollow. They are just things we say when we are knocked off our game. When something shocking happens and we do not immediately have a story for it. We think that life is being unfair, that God got it wrong, that somehow being a good, wonderful person is some immunity to bad things happening in your life. In the span of five minutes, I realized that all the things I just said, meant nothing. Death is part of life. So is fear of death. They are with us every moment from our birth to our death and there is really very little we can do about it…
I was left with all my grief feelings for the rest of the evening. Cancer yet again reminding me that I am so very powerless in this world. Cancer coming and taking what it will, never letting up when it decides to be virulent.
My friend is handling it well. Shock helps. The surrealness of receiving such a horrific diagnosis makes the initial days following somewhat dream like I would imagine. Like at any moment, you will be awakened and it will all just be a bad dream…
God I wish that were true in this situation.
The next few weeks will be telling: there is no cure and the treatment is worse than the diagnosis. My friend will have to decide what to do or not do. I want to be there to offer support and a shoulder. I have no opinion on what the course should be, I just know that, no matter what, I love this person and want to do whatever I can to make their life better however I can.
Life is such a tricky bitch. So many jagged twists that you don’t see coming. So many dark places to survive and grow through. So many times you think you have it all figured out only to realize that we truly know so very little.
As our call ended yesterday, I was left with this hole in my chest, my heart beating still but a little less. Like somehow I wanted to take part of my vibrancy and bottle it and take it to my friend. As if that is something that can actually be accomplished. As if I have an endless supply. None of us do. We are all here for whatever time we are allotted…nothing more, nothing less. And none of us know how long that is…
What remained with me all evening is a feeling of connection and love. A loving desire to be present and feel all the feelings, the choking sobs, the laughter, the joy, the pain, the fear. All of it. I didn’t want to cut any of the painful stuff short, and I didn’t want to over exaggerate the joyful stuff. More than anything I wanted to hug my friend and tell them that I will be there, whatever the need.
I love this person. I do. They are part of my story. My life. And I part of theirs. I am devastated by the news, how could I not be? But I am also not going there…not now. I am going to remain in the day, this day and show up in whatever manner I might to be a friend to them. To love them and help them see how very dear they are to me, how much I value them in my life and how very much my life is better for knowing them. No matter what happens from here, I want every day to be a day that is celebrated, cherished and enjoyed. None of us are promised another tomorrow. We all just only have this day right here. And it matters quite a lot what we do with it. And this person, this amazing version of a human being taught me that.
I will hold their secret and be grateful to have been told early so that I may do whatever I can to show up and be present and give. I want to be of service, even if the only thing I can do is make them laugh, and cry and everything in between. Sometimes the best and most loving thing we can do is to bear witness.
And as we have discussed many, many times: the shocking news from yesterday provided me a gift…jarring me from my life complacency and causing me to immediately re-evaluate my priorities, my heart and my activities that rank important. What mattered most was communicating the love I feel, the support I offer and the friendship I treasure. No matter where we go from here, I am all in. My friend taught me that its really all about God, no matter what we do and where we go…trusting God is always a step in the direction of goodness, wholeness and love. Every damn time. Perhaps that is what I can offer my friend: a constant and unrelenting reminder that none of this life stuff is really our business at all. It is all God’s business, no matter what we think, feel or do.