Monday, July 6, 2009

Friendships Are The Cornerstones of Our Lives

A dear friend emailed me after reading a few posts from this blog and apologized to me for initially saying "I'm so sorry" to me after hearing that I had cancer. He did this because several posts below, I went on a cranky rant about the things that people say to you when you have cancer.

Let me just say that it was my goal when I started this blog to honestly
express my feelings and to record my journey for my girls. I never really thought that anybody else would read this. I told my kids that I would be as absolutely honest as possible no matter what. And I was.

Sometimes I look back at some of my blog entries below and it is all I can do to not erase them because certainly they do not show me at my best.
However, for as dense as I am, I can learn. And I have.

Now that I am a year out, I have a new stance on "the things that peo
ple say" when they learn you have cancer. And that is ...

... People are doing the best that they can. No matter what words they use, they are saying, "I am shocked, I need to process this, I am concerned for you, and I don't want you to die." They are just loving in whatever way they can at the time. And guess what? That is good enough for me. Others around us need time and space to journey through their own feelings of shock and fear about our cancer. Cancer people would do well to remember that their disease is not always just about THEM. It's about everybody around them, especially their close community of friends and family.

In reflecting back, I think my irritation about the things that well-meaning people would say to me was more about how these interchanges often required that I step up and take care of the speaker. "I'm so sorry" is indicating that the person is fearful about what you've just shared. It was hard for me, as a long-time Mom, to not immediately step in to console, or try make things okay for everybody else about my own sickness. As a result, I spent a lot of time consoling others. And that was wearing to the point where I often avoided events like REALTOR gatherings and meetings. I was tired anyway, so going to an event like that would have resulted in a LOT of care taking on my part. Exhausting!

So, what's the lesson? Cancer hurts and baffles everybody. Cancer is about everybody, not just the patient. Everybody involved is entitled to have the feelings that they have about the situation. We can all love and care and empathize and nurture everybody else involved in the situation and that is awesome. People will get cranky. They will say dumb things. So what? At least they come in love, and that ultimately is what we are called to do. Who cares what form wonderful, marvelous, amazing LOVE comes in, just so long as it's there?

If your eyes are here, know that I love you very, very much. Paix - Jen

1 comment:

Goony said...

thanks for writing this Jen. You did a fantastic job of making me understand why it isn't ok to say I'm so sorry, which is the first thing that pops into my mind to say. You are right, it is shocking to us and we can't process it fast enough in those few moments that we need to reply and we usually say something stupid, and believe me later in the day we are kicking ourselves. I think the best thing to say is I love you, I'm here for you, and what can I do to help you. You are pure awesome Jen. Thanks for helping me understand this touchy topic.