Writing is harder, when it matters.
Today, I looked at a video and sobbed. I sobbed with choking little sounds and hiccups that made me cough in the middle. I shook my head in the “Oh no. No this cannot be happening” sort of way, and held my hand to my chest. It let me know that I was alive. I felt a bit ashamed for feeling glad that it wasn’t me. My high school schoolmate has Stage 4 Cancer. She is there, and I am here. We haven’t spoken for years, and when we did, it was fleetingly, in passing. I was really not interested in her life at that time. We were different scholastically and socially, and … again, I didn’t know enough of her background or anything else to say more. Except for this: She Was Always There.
We lived in a small town, so the kindergarten-mates were my high school mates. So she was always there, passing, or being noticed in the cafeteria, or at ball games. Always there. I would see her at the little Jr. Mart and nod with a vague smile that said, “I acknowledge you. You are on good terms with my social circle. You may pass in my space with no hard feelings.” I took her for granted.
And, I left the town. I grew up and had a family, and so did she, and I didn’t know of her life at all from that point. Nor did I think about her. Until now. I looked at this video because it was on Facebook, and my entire hometown is on Facebook, so there she was. I clicked because I was jolted that there was anything wrong at all. And like me looking at a wreck on the highway, I stopped just long enough to see who and what and where and why. And then I looked a bit longer.
This life-wreck belonged to my school mate. And was heart-wrenching. Not detected until it had gotten to Stage 4, this woman was happy and had kids and a husband and a life. And it could go away. Not abruptly. Nope. That would be more kind, I believe. No, this wreck was a slow wreck that let her life be put slowly in order, with many people saying hello when they were actually saying goodbye. And it was not kind because she got to hear and see and note them all. Not kind for her to know that she could not establish ties again with these people who said ,” I just heard! I am so sorry. Is there anything I can do?” Of course they cannot, now, but they could have provided a more rich life for her by being there in the first place, when nothing was wrong.
That was me. I was that person that said empty words that didn’t mean anything of what I wanted them to mean. When I said those words, what I meant was, ” I am so sorry that I didn’t care. That our lives didn’t cross sooner, and in better times. I am so sorry that your heartache makes me selfishly hold my children longer, and hug my husband harder, knowing how precious they are to me. I am sorry that I probably won’t see you in person at all because I can’t get away, even now, to hug you myself.” I am so sorry that I still care enough to sob, because it means I do actually care, and her name is attached to the memories I have that had her there for me for my childhood years.
How dare I be fine when she is not? This is not logical, but it is emotional, and I am mad and sad and glad and hurt all at once. What I really wish doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I remember her now. And her family. And I know she gives me an opportunity to think of her and her family, and my family as well. Honor to you, Ash. You matter to me.