The past few weeks have been a blur. First there was Thanksgiving, then The Writer and I jetted off to paradise. We had an amazing time but missed the kiddos fiercely. Home for two weeks (well, I was–The Writer had another work trip) and loving on the boyo. Then TW and I had another trip to a warm location.
The back-to-back trips were exhausting, and we didn’t intend to plan them like that. The second trip was planned before the first one, after another trip had to be postponed. But both trips were fun, and it was great to have so much uninterrupted TW time, out of our usual element.
Life was hectic but fun. Exhausting but full of love.
And then the world stopped.
Cancer struck again.
A great friend of mine lost her father.
I’m back at the airport for the third time in as many weeks. (Side note: I have no idea how TW does it.)
Once again, the custody schedule works in my favor; I can be with my friend while Smiley is with his dad (though I’m sad to miss the daycare holiday party).
I have known Pickle since my freshman year of college. We were great friends but after graduation we lost touch, as you did in the days before FB and Twitter. We reconnected a few years ago but it wasn’t a deep friendship. I was embroiled in my shithole of a marriage and she was dealing with her parents and sister and their various health issues.
Then I needed someone to talk to. I was pregnant and thinking of leaving my husband. I was up late, and Pickle has always been a night owl. We spent four hours on the phone. It was that cliched “we haven’t spoken for 10 years but when we picked up the phone it was as if no time had passed” friendship.
I’m so thankful for all the support she gave me. It was especially helpful to talk to someone who knew me “before.” She remembered me as “me,” not somebody’s wife. She talked me through so much crap, and assured me I wasn’t crazy to want to be respected and loved for who I am, not what someone wants me to be. She even came to visit when Smiley was a few weeks old and gave me much-needed sanity and sleep breaks.
And as I figured my shit out, she came to need me. Her dad had been suffering from prostate cancer for a few years. The chemo seemed to help, but he kept sliding backward. Her sister was useless. I’d been through something so similar, it helped her to have someone to talk to.
I could sympathize with how hard it is to watch your parent get sick. I could sympathize with how shitty it is to have a sibling who doesn’t want to be involved unless it directly relates to him or her–and who has the gall to ask “is he dying?” when it’s suggested s/he come visit dad. I could sympathize with the guilt of needing to take time for yourself when someone is relying on you.
And now, unfortunately, I can sympathize with having to deal with funeral arrangements and telling people terrible news while your own world falls apart. Struggling to keep yourself going, supporting other people who need you more, who are more fragile.
And I’m on my way to be with Pickle, so someone can take care of her. So she doesn’t have to be strong for everyone else.
I love my friend, and I hate cancer so much.