Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 8.41.31 AMI wanted to get away, but common courtesy and rules of workplace decorum dictated that it would be rude. I wanted to go up to my first floor classroom leaving her talking to stupid self on that landing.  “Everything has a silver lining,” she said and continued, “You have to realize that, Brian.” “Please, just shut the f*ck up,” I thought, paralyzed on the stairs, but didn’t say. “You have a chance to say a good bye before he goes, and that is a blessing. Not everyone has that opportunity.”

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.

 

comfort in#wisdom_biscuit:

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.


Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 8.19.50 AMPostscript: Michael beat all the odds. He is in remission. Healthy. Fine. Amazing. Tear-worthy astonishment and gratitude.

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.

 

 

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