And in 2278, when my online works are being studied by college students in space, they will write term papers hypothesizing the lack of content in late 2010 and early 2011 on this blog. Most of them will attribute this to there being a constant stream of the Real Housewives of Anywhere on TV. And they would only be partially wrong. (I'm two tablespoons deeper than that.)
So, I am going to tell you something sad that I have been feeling bad about.
I got a text from my friend Alyssa last week, telling me she had some heavy news and would rather tell me on the phone than by text or email. My stomach dropped a little. In the 45 seconds it took between that text and us talking on the phone, I considered a couple of possibilities. Maybe she lost her job? Maybe her dad is sick?
I never in a million years would have predicted that my healthy, active, globe-trotting, smart and sassy friend would tell me that she has breast cancer. She's thirty-five.
And then I said something supremely stupid: "Are you kidding me?" What, because people are always pranking each other with cancer scares? Duh. I immediately wanted to rewind and say something more appropriate, like, "Oh shit." (Which is a special word I save for such occasions.)
And then, in the course of our 30-minute conversation, she explained in calm collectedness how all of this began (with a lump found by her doctor), what she knew about her prognosis, what her plans were regarding treatment, how she'd spent the days between the biopsy and results reading and not-sleeping and gearing herself up for the monumental fight she knew-but-didn't-know was coming. As if to balance out her calm collectedness, I spent the half-hour with tears streaming down my face, choking on the news.
I invited her to come and stay with us for the weekend, and in the only act of emotionally-impaired decision-making I've witnessed thus far, she agreed to come.
I tried to pull my crap together before she arrived and did okay. We had a really nice weekend, one I'll remember forever. I'll especially remember how I've never seen anybody cope with bad news with such a level head and sense of humor. Even if she falls apart later on and becomes a slobbering, whining fool, she will always have five trillion bonus points for the grace and composure she is exhibiting in the moment. (And I'm keeping score, Cancer!) In fact, on that subject, our household psychologist Ryan made a point to tell her that she's been amazing to be around, but that we still want to be around when she's not so amazing. Amen to that.
We sent her home on the train and into the arms of appointments, doctors, consultations, and other scary realities waiting for her this week. In an act of courageous proactivity, she had her hair cut short (anticipating the chemo) and ended up with the sauciest hairdo I've seen in some time. Best cancer makeover ever. Of course, she sent her long, dark hair to Locks of Love. (Is she secretly trying to become the Oprah finale, I wonder? Will the tear-jerking amazing-ness never end?)
Alyssa said something interesting to me while she was here. As she has shared her news with other people, the burden of it felt lighter, she said. I've always known that in theory, but it was amazing to see it happen with my own eyes. The sharing of burdens really does make them possible to carry.
Guess who needs to learn that lesson? Yup, that's me looking sheepish.
So, I'm writing this here. I'm telling you that I'm feeling bad. Sad, but hopeful. Sad for my friend and for many of my loved ones fighting scary fights and unknown outcomes. But, yes, hopeful. Because I can't help it. People are amazing. I should know, I'm surrounded by them. And that includes you.
(You could and should keep up with Alyssa's story. She's making a triumphant return to blogging.)