30 November 2005

Sadnes, Sympathy, and Comparisons

The husband of a family friend--a long time family friend--has just been diagnosed with cancer. He's young, in his early 30s. His wife and I have known each other since fourth grade and were best grade school friends, although we drifted apart in high school and beyond and now only see each other when I'm home for the holidays and our families get together.

I feel immense empathy for what she and her husband are going through. I remember all too well the day we got GH's diagnosis. It was easily the most horrible day of my life. I would never wish that fear and grief on anyone.

And yet, while I feel so much empahty, I am very resistant to my mom's encouragement that my friend and I talk. Mom thinks it would "help us both." I feel like I have to devote so much emotional energy right now to keeping my hormonal self on course, taking care of me and GH, keeping my act together at work, and just keeping up with my own life that I just can't be the "my husband has cancer, what do I do now?" resource for someone. Selfish, but true.

And even worse: the comparisons. Her husband--thankfully for him--has a cancer that was caught relatively early and that responds well to chemo. The doctors expect that he will be cured. That doesn't make the process any less scary, but I envy them that hope so much that I just don't think I can talk to her about it. GH's cancer is considered incurable. I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't acknowledge that fact while still hoping that some miracle gets pulled out of an oncologist's ass. He's already greatly exceeded the life expectancy of most people who get his diagnosis. I feel like my friend's husband has some pansy-ass cancer, that this is just a horrible bump in the road for them that will soon enough be over and from which they will be able to more on. I, on the other hand, wake up every day with the knowledge that my husband is dying.

I wish I could be a bigger person. I wish that I could be there for my friend. I can send a card and I can honestly tell her that I hope for the best for her and her husband. But I can't do more than that. It hurts too much.


LCT said...

It's okay to take care of yourself and GH. If you aren't able to be there for the grade school friend, don't try to force it (wouldn't be good for you or her). Your friend will find other sources of support. Give yourself permission to follow your gut; this doesn't make you a bad person.

Supa D. Fresh said...

Oh gosh, I was always so jealous of folks with pansy-ass cancers. They pissed me off, in fact.

But dating as a widow several years later, on the other hand, gave me another comparison: I am WAY more desirable than a divorcee.

BTW, I'm an editor, too! Science and medicine... so is Mimi Smartypants. I guess we really need our creative outlets huh!