I’ve met a lot of people through this experience, but the new friend I think about often is a cantankerous woman who actually lives by me. She has terminal lymphoma and is NOT happy about it.
“It’s such a beautiful day,” I told her last week.
“If you like that sort of thing.”
“It’s just gorgeous. The sun is shining. The birds are singing.”
“There you are, talking about the day when we both know we’re dying.”
“Everyone is dying,” I say.
“But we’re dying faster, and it’s a slo, painful death. I hate my life. What did I do to deserve this!”
“Well, I don’t think either of us did something wrong. But while I’m going through this, I’m appreciating every day I can.”
The conversation continued much the same until I told her how I’d be getting test results this week, and how I “might” get good news.
“But you might get terrible news,” she practically spat the words.
I paused. It’s hard because I understand that this whole experience has beat her down, but I don’t get why our responses are so different. I hung up the phone and kept wishing I could make her life better...easier. Just like she can’t sober me the way she wants to, I can’t help her grasp onto hope. We’re both stuck in the same situation—on opposite sides of a chasm—and no matter how much both of us want to “help” the other, we just can’t.
I’ve met a lot of new people through sharing my story. People who live far away and close to home. There’s a boy who’s heroically battling cancer; I read his updates and find strength in my own circumstances. There’s an older lady who offers me sage advice and encouragement despite her own terminal situation. (All she thinks about is others.) Then there’s a loving son who messages me and talks about the struggles his mother goes through as she fights for her life—all while finding the kindness to pray for me.
Cancer has been debilitating, to say the least, but because of this situation I’ve met so many people who have literally changed my life for the best. I don’t have an answer for why this is happening to all of them, but for myself, I’m grateful for the lessons and glad to still be on this journey to hope.