Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The C Word

My girlfriend phoned the other night, prefacing the reason for her call as "sucky news," my mind went to fill-in-the-blank mode, one of the boys was in a car accident, her husband Mike (my husband's name too) had a heart attack, one of our friends had died,

"Breast cancer, stage 1" she said, stilling my preemptive attempts.

No history in her family, never smoked, has always exercised and kept her weight in check--a total random strike. Janet shared the events leading up to the diagnosis and the radiation treatment plans she now had to decide upon. We discussed the pro's and con's of having the treatments near home or near work. How the kids took the news and our conversation naturally drifted to their lives, their work, where they were living and who they were seeing. She spoke with relief that her soon to be  ex-daughter-in-law was supportive and would make sure the grandchildren would visit her and Mike often. Through the "suckiness" of a cancer diagnosis, her continued relationship with the grandchildren and their mother was everything to her. Life's obstacles never happen in the singular, and the "C" word doesn't obscure life's other issues, both trivial and large; on the other hand, the "C" word aides you in honing into the meaty issues, the issues that matter and allows you to toss the trivial.

Janet and I developed our friendship through our child rearing years, it's a "raising family friendship;"  A Daycare, preschool, church, recipe sharing, room mother's, walking for fitness, car pooling; scouts, sports, camping and New Year's Eve banging-pots-on-the-front-porch friendship. Distance does not keep her and Mike from an invite, even after we moved 27 miles out, they've attended every trivia nite, Halloween party, graduation party and funeral. Now that they've moved back to her hometown, 30-plus miles the other way from our old neighborhood, a good 50 miles east of us we will do the same. I realize a year has gone by and I still haven't been to their new home, we have experienced a dry spell now that our kids have grown. This new chapter--post child rearing chapter--offers us the opportunity to find new ways to gather. A winery outing is on the table, where we can share an afternoon of blue sky's, wine and music.

I make a mental note to purchase another copy of Kelly Corrigan's memoir The Middle Place. I read Kelly's memoir a few years ago and even elected to write an assigned report for a nonfiction writing course--Kelly has the innate ability to touch our collective heartstrings in all parts of being female, she transports us to our childhood, teen years through adulthood as only a dear friend can.  In her fight against cancer--vulnerable, enraged, scared and hope-filled--Kelly humanizes the journey, sharing the relationship's all women share; our childhoods, friends and families reminding us to remember the moments of our pasts and linger in the moments of the now.

In sharing this book with my dear friend, I hope Kelly's voice offers reassurance and aides Janet's voice in sharing her journey with all those that love her. Afterall, life is the culmination of "now moments," and our taking those "moments in time" to respond.
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