How’s your day?
Today I met my friend who is currently battling cancer, but there is more to that.
This was our very first meeting after she had told me and her other friends about the disease via email last week. We started exchanging words then, in forms of her updating the steps of treatment, and us, cheering and supporting, with repeated words that I feared might sound tiresome to her.
That is why, more than anything else I had to do today, I looked forward to meeting her the most. I wanted to say things I could not say in text or typed words, especially those confined within a little more than a hundred characters.
Unusually, I didn’t prepare anything for that. No rehearsed words in my mind, no planned lengthy speeches, because I kept myself busy.
And then there she was, stylish as she has always been and still is. The age-deceiving fashion style she donned only enhanced her perky persona, which we all have been fond of. We hugged for the longest time we could remember.
The only difference is how she held back tears occasionally with her faint smile, only to be turned into hilarious laughter afterwards. Done with the medical talks, we started laughing at hilarious occasions. How I had made a fool of myself in the midnight screening the night before, what has been happening with our common friends, and finding jokes in these trying times.
Like our usual coffee chats, we didn’t spend much time. A little more than an hour is more than enough to catch up, and to plan what’s coming ahead.
The precious minutes were in fact aptly sufficient for me to realize how I have dragged myself into the question of “what if?”
What if she couldn’t make the chemo? What if I’m not strong enough to cheer her up? What if this is our last?
What if she, right there in front of me, shifting between emotions, is the representation of our life that is being screened right in front of our naked eyes?
And I am writing those questions shamelessly in crying now, because the person these “what if?” questions were based on, didn’t seem to bother.
Maybe she does, but from my point of view, her determination to focus on getting better will get her through. Equally important is how this attitude will drag us only to support her more.
Of course, we are merely normal, healthy, common human beings that when supporting, we can’t help wonder that when unfortunate situations happen to our loved ones, we start reflecting on our own life. Usually it begins with “is it possible that I may suffer the same?”, or “what would I do if I were in the opposite side?”
Yet, another query has come to surface: “what if I didn’t do enough to support her?”
How much is not too much?
Countless theories have been written into books, which we both agreed that there’s no way Chicken Soup for the Soul series would be seen in her bedside.
While this is a common illness, the experience of going through the illness is always a personal one. Because no one is alike in this world.
And so does the support.
Those who know me can tell that I suck at jokes, let alone being on par with them genuinely funny stand-up comedians. As you probably can tell from reading this entry up to this point, I tend to talk about myself a lot, and that leads me to wonder: what have you gained so far? None is the most expected answer.
I don’t know if presence and time are more than enough.
She kept saying, “Time is the luxury I can’t afford.” Foolishly, rather than consoling her, I nodded along in agreement.
A few hours later, in tears I admitted and realized that actually, and also selfishly, I might nod in excitement.
Excited because I was given honor to follow and witness her progress in the future. Excited because there are plans to record her journey. Excited because, rather than battling misery, she will be “eating while I still have my appetite.”
Excited because, selfishly, I will see a well-lived experience of a very dear friend. And the fact that she asked me to be there is a lifetime offer one can’t refuse.
Excited for believing that at the end of the tunnel, we’ll get to meet over coffee again, laughing at the whole journey we will have gone through.
Excited that, despite writing this with tears still running down on my cheeks, I get to end the note by saying: Today I met my friend who is currently battling cancer … and starting a much more exciting life.
To you. Cheers!!!