Monday, April 26, 2010

Coping when friends aren't doing well

I just wrote a reply to a friend who asked me how I'm doing after seeing Mary on Saturday. Mary & I are close and I think everyone is aware that it's a bit of a double whammy for me when someone I'm close to with metastatic cancer is not doing well.

It is true, it hurts. No, that's an understatement. It fucking sucks. I think the world of Mary and hate seeing that it's impossible now for her to be her usual "I can do anything; I'm not really sick" kind of self. 

Also, seeing myself in her shoes (or wheelchair, or hospital bed, etc.) isn't that much of a stretch for me.

I'm heading off to a conference for women with advanced breast cancer this weekend. What kind of a lunatic would continue to make connections (and potential friendships) with an entire community of women who's futures are filled with question marks? Shouldn't I protect myself and ask for health records and a family history before making new friends?

But, the truth is, no one understands where I'm at in my head like these women. I have a connection with them that I can't find anywhere else. They "get" me.

(Was that from a Tom Cruise movie? Oh no, I think it was "you complete me". As cute as he is, it would take more than Tommy boy to "complete" this old jig-saw puzzle with half the pieces missing).

Some of the women got emotional when we waved goodbye as Mary left the hospital. I think I just can't go there because if I do, I'm afraid it won't stop. The last time I really cried was at Christmas and I can't remember the time before that. It just feels too big for me to deal with, so I shut down. I think it's my mind's way of protecting me from coming completely apart at the seams. I have to stay in control because if I dare to peak over the edge, I'm afraid I'll fall into the abyss and won't be able to get up again.

Whewww! That was just too deep for a sunny Monday morning. I'm heading out for a bike ride with Anka and then off to do some planning for the accessory party this afternoon.

But Mary, sister of my heart, is never far from my thoughts...


Dee said...

Chris, go ahead and let the tears out. I cry a lot - always have and used to be embarrassed about it. But one of my colleagues told me a couple of years ago, "Go ahead and cry. It's out fault if we can't handle it, but it would be good for you." I stop feeling bad about it and it's obviously an emotion that wants to come out. You don't always need to put a brave face on the situation. Cry in the shower. You'll feel drained but lighter of heart afterwards!

Daria said...

It's awful when a mets friend is not doing well ... and when I loose a friend to cancer ... it affects me for weeks if not months.

I usually go for a car ride and bawl my eyes out ... that way I am free to let go and have a good cry.