I have been here before. Not feeling met in my grief, in my anguish. Just a half hour before my mother implored me to focus on the 6% survival rate that my friend’s disease has over 5 years as opposed the morbid 94% kill rate that stage four colon cancer can claim. Damn the Internet and the statistics you can find.
I try to ponder compassionately about the woman 6 stairs below me. Perhaps someone she loved died suddenly leaving her without closure and so she is spewing at me what she wished to have had. I sublimate, trying to neutralize my bile with an aphorism about listening for the heartfelt intentions of communication — I mean, she meant well and I’m in a hard place, oughtn’t I be able to take what I like and leave the rest? Instead, I wonder how it would sound, the sound of her fat, flesh covered skeleton falling down the stairwell, limbs thrashing, momentum gaining. Crack, shriek, thud, oof.
I come back into my own body and notice that tears have welled up in my eyes. I notice that involuntarily I have ascended the next stair up and away from her saccharine, non-comfort. Then I pause. Although I want to, I can’t seem to just walk away.
My friend is fighting a death battle with death itself and she tells me that there is a silver lining in it — that it is a blessing.
“It hardly seems equitable,” I say, still facing away from her, putting my hands out to simulate balance scales.
“Oh, it’s not fair,” I hear from behind me and then, “but it’s still a blessing.”
“Have a good day,” I say as I continue up the stairs to my classroom where know I will feel safe enough to cry.
Don’t make people put away their negative emotions to comfort you.
Make a space for them.
Read more about this concept of “comfort in, dump out” from a 2013 LA Times article. It’s worth the read.
Here is a picture of the two of us at Magic Camp two weeks ago.
We are both wearing shirts with the word “Normal” on them – because we thought it was funny, indeed.
I love you, Michael.
I am so glad that in the past year we have had the opportunity to talk so much, to reconnect, to get closer.
Nonetheless, when the above happened last October, I still wanted to shove her down the stairs.