She got the call today, one out of the grey, and when the smoke cleared, it took her breath away. She said she didn’t believe it could happen to me. I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees.
It’s amazing how one moment can act as a catalyst in your life, leaving you irrevocably changed. In the span of 24-hours, I watched two people that I love and care deeply for, hear some of the most devastating news one can ever get. And it all revolved around one, single word. Cancer.
We’ll start at the beginning…because honestly, where else is there to start. J’s father has been having trouble with a mass that was growing in his neck. One biopsy came back benign, but a second opinion wanted to do another biopsy, coupled with an MRI, to ensure they were pulling from the right area. Thursday evening, J’s father called with the results. The biopsy came back cancerous. The prognosis sounds good, but the specialists are meeting this week to discuss the full diagnosis and treatment plan. Surgery should occur the week after this upcoming one. The idea is that the tumor is growing around his salivary gland, so they’ll go in and remove it, then treat residual with radiation. All in all, while incredibly crappy, and scary as all hell, if the doctors are optimistic, who are we to argue. J got off the phone with his dad and just sort of sat there, not saying anything, for the rest of the evening. His dad is his best friend…the one constant in his life for his entire 34 years. In that moment, facing the fact that his father is facing serious health issues, J’s entire world was shaken. And all I could do was sit there, offer my optimism, be close, and be strong for both of us.
And then, Friday morning, another call (actually a text). My good friend’s mother was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer about a year ago. They went in, did a full hysterectomy, and were treating the residual with heavy chemotherapy. It wasn’t going well, but they were optimistic. We all knew that she wouldn’t have a full life, living until 90+ like adults are prone to do now, but we definitely thought we were in the “years” left category. But, like so many things, it doesn’t always go to plan. Friday morning, the doctors came back with the test scans, told my friend and her family that the cancer had spread, and that there was nothing they could do. They’ve stopped chemotherapy and moved her mother home, to hospice care. To make matters worse…the “years” we thought we had didn’t go down to “months.” Instead…we have weeks…and not many at that. Probably less than a month. The cancer is severe and aggressive, and in a short while, my good friend will be without her mother. It’s devastating and beyond comprehension that someone so vibrant, so full of love and life, will be gone in no time. And my heart absolutely breaks for my friend. I cry for her, because she can’t seem to cry for herself yet.
And so, I was sitting here, thinking of how to write this post, when my iTunes playlist popped up with the song “Closer to Love” by Mat Kearney. That’s the lyrics above that I’ve typed. And it fit, those first few lines. We never think it’ll happen to us, that our lives will be the ones changed so drastically. It’s a coping mechanism, born of millennia full of love and loss, to protect ourselves to the utmost degree by living in a delusion that it will always be someone else. Never you that will go through the hardship, but always someone outside your circle of loved ones. Until one day, you wake up, and you realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the chaos, and you find yourself wondering how you managed to escape it for so long in the first place.
So tonight…hug and hold your loved ones tight. Don’t wait a minute longer to tell someone you love them. Mend your bridges (if they’re worth mending) and keep close to those that matter. Because, like I’ve realized, you never know when that rug is going to be yanked out from under you.