career · community · death · friendship · fulfillment · life · love

Blood Brothers

Normal
0
0
1
482
2751
22
5
3378
11.1539

0

0
0

Yesterday morning I had coffee with a cancer friend, for
lack of a better term.
He’s someone who reached out to me when I returned to work last Spring,
who was 15 years out from his own similar cancer diagnosis, and said if I ever
wanted to talk, he was available.
Since then, we’ve had coffee about once every 6 months or
so, and we get to talk about walking back into a life that sort of looks the
same on the outside, but has completely changed. We exchange the requisite,
“Everything’s okay with your health?” question early in the conversation so we
can continue on.
We speak mostly about work and fulfillment.
At the time we first met up, he was in a transition of his
own, and now, about 18 months later, is again. And so we spoke about
meaningfulness, about intention, about the often tipped balance between the
checkbook and joy.
I love talking with him. Because he is my cancer friend. Because, it’s different than the
first coffee date I had even earlier yesterday morning (a Jewish holiday and
therefore a day off work), when I met with the home stager about potentially
working and apprenticing with her.
With her, I only said things like, I’m just looking for a
change and to instill more creativity into my every day life, to engage more of
my heart in my work. With him, the whole conversation is built on the
understanding of why that’s so. It’s not
just because I’m a flighty 30something; It’s because I’m a fighting 30something
(if you will).
I left the first coffee date with the home stager feeling
mildly despairing and depressed. And I left the conversation with my cancer
friend feeling uplifted, supported, and understood.
I know what he’s talking about when he says how it wrecks
him that he has been so wrapped up in work again that he hasn’t had time for
his outdoor hobbies. He knows what I’m talking about when I say that we have
the privilege and curse of not being able to run on the hamster wheel of life
without questioning what we’re doing.
I never wanted a cancer friend. I never wanted to be part of
a cancer support group, and tried a few times without going back. Therapy isn’t
the same thing either, though that helped. But talking with someone who also
had their next breath marched up to the guillotine… it’s different.
It’s not “all cancer all the time.” Our conversation wasn’t even about
grief or anger. It was barely about cancer at all, except that of course it
was. It is the reason we met, became friends, and can share with one another
on a different level what our life paths are looking like and what we want them
to look like and the struggle between just going along as planned and taking
the time to question it all.
I imagine in some ways, it’s like war veterans’ ability to
have an instant understanding of one another: You’ve both seen life and death;
you’ve both fought bravely and been terrified; you’ve both come back to
civilian life and are attempting to make sense of it all, while still paying
your cable bill and buying groceries alongside every other citizen.
But you also know that, conscious or not, you both make
every decision in reaction to and on top of your experience at war. You can’t
not. It’s part of your DNA, now. You’re blood brothers.
I never knew I needed a cancer friend. And I sit here
writing with tears of gratitude that I have one. 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s