Cancer is Just Like Divorce

One of my good friends emailed me today and said, “…I will try to do better at keeping in contact with you but sometimes we feel, mistakenly or not, that we don’t have the right words or are afraid of intruding in a very private time, when maybe that’s when you need some company most of all. None of us really know because most of us have never been where you are now. Just know that you are in our thoughts many times a day.”

This triggered a couple of memories. One was when I divorced my first husband. Not only were my parents pretty frustrated with me, but I also lost a lot of friends. It is always awkward for family and friends when a couple goes through a divorce. The friends don’t quite know what to do. If they seek out one, then the other may feel alienated. And vice versa. Or at least, that’s what the friends think — so, almost subliminally, they slowly but surely stop seeing both.

Same thing happens when someone dies. In fact, this whole subject reminded me that it has been months since I contacted a good friend back east. I’ll call her Dottie. Her husband and I were colleagues for more than 20 years. We both worked for the same company and would occasionally work on projects together. He was a great mentor and friend. I rarely saw Dottie, but certainly visited with her on the phone and exchanged greeting cards during the holidays. Well, my good friend and colleague passed away a couple of years ago. Other than a sympathy card, I have not communicated with Dottie. I’ve been unsure of what to say. It was easier to “forget”. And now, with our common bond being gone, there really wasn’t anything to say. I suspect I’m not the only “friend” that Dottie has lost.

We’ve all been down this path. It’s a tricky path with lots of bumps along the way. But let me go on record to say: Friends and family stoke my fire! They are what keep me going. They are what keep me laughing. And my husband, too!  Sure, we’re going through a terminal illness, but before it becomes truly terminal, we’ve got some living to do. We want to talk about the good times and fond memories with our children and grandchildren. We want to talk about our faith in God, the San Francisco Giants, the weather, and who’s going to be our next president. (OK, on the latter, my husband might; I don’t talk politics.) I think that it’s good to remember that the terminally ill loved one lives with the disease every waking moment. With every breath, he is reminded of his “predicament”. So diversion is good. Have no fear. If one of us is unable to visit, or talk on the phone, we’ll say the word. Just know that you are loved, we want to hear from you, and divorce is out of the question!


About susansplace

Widowed in 2012, I am a mother and grandmother. Born in San Francisco, I now live in the town I grew up in: Mill Valley, California. I love nature photography. Just an amateur but that's OK! My goal: world peace. Got any ideas?
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