Sunday, January 4, 2009

Guilting the Lily

This week's Spin Cycle is all about guilt. And boy, is it a tough one ...

I am a divorced mom, a stepmom, a working mom. I am a daughter who lives three thousand miles away from my aging father and sick sister. Guilt is as much as a part of my daily life, my daily thought process, as is remembering to take my vitamins and deciding which black pumps to wear with my tweed skirt. It simply is.

My friend has cancer. Four words, mostly single syllable, devastatingly simple, and, while summative, are woefully inadequate. She is more than a friend, she is my daughter's Sensi and friend, my older daughter babysits constantly for her, she is an alter ego - another self - one who knows me as well as I do and someone who is not afraid to tell me when I am being an ass. Which seems to happen way more than I think it should. hmmmmm. She reads like I do, with her mind and heart, and we have had so many interesting discussions about what we have read. Yes, we are even weird enough to read the same books so we can talk about them. I am so lucky to have her in my life.

She was diagnosed a breath away from stage four.

My guilt, the guilt that washes over everything beautiful and leaves a thin translucent coating, is that I know I cannot do enough. I have cooked for her, listened to her. I was there when she had her gorgeous curls cut off (the doctor said this would make the loss of it to chemo easier) and our bookclub made a quilt for her (each of us created a square). But I keep thinking of what I am not doing - even though what I should be doing is a hazy idea I cannot quite pull into focus. I really don't know what else to do, but I should definitely be doing it. Right now. Because if she ... the word is too difficult to write. It makes it to real to write that tiny, terrible word. But if it happens, then I know I will berate myself for not having done that elusive 'more.' I knew a girl who was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and it honestly never entered my mind that she would die - for cryin' out loud, we live in America in a time of astounding medical advancements and drive-through Starbucks! Who actually DIES these days?

She did. And I have never forgiven myself for not doing more.


Katie said...

Wow. I'm so sorry that your friend is going through this and I'm so sorry I cannot give any helpful advice on how you can help her. I wish her the best of luck, and a swift journey to recovery. (((HUGS))) to you for being such a caring friend.

Sprite's Keeper said...

If you answer her calls, you're forgiven. If you give your shoulder for her to cry on, you're forgiven. If you give her your time, you're forgiven. If you give her your thoughts, you're forgiven. My heart is breaking for your friend, too young to meet eternity, but my heart also breaks for you, for unfortunately, no matter how much you do, you cannot do much more than you already have. I think that if she knew how much this was hurting you, she would tell you to knock it off. She'd rather see you happy and being you. You're linked and definitely forgiven!

Amber said...

Cancer sucks. I saw that on a bumper sticker once. And no statement has ever been truer. I'm a two-time cancer survivor. It sounds like you're doing for her what you can and should be doing. Don't beat yourself up for things you're not able to do. Just keep reminding her to fight. Fight. Fight. Fight. Cancer is the most feared word in the English language.

I really, really, really hope she gets to wear the honored label: survivor. We need more of them.

K, this is getting really long but one other thing...cry with her. Tell her how scared you are for her to leave you. Be afraid with her. Don't be afraid to talk about it, though. I remember when I was diagnosed the first time (I was 16) my friends all came over and there was this big, huge elephant in the room until my dad said, "it's ok to say the "C" word". I hope this helps.

Laufa said...

I think the best thing you can do for your friend is be with her and for her, no matter what. I agree with Jen from Sprite's Keeper. Have your friend read your blog. Cheer up!!

Anonymous said...

You ARE doing so much. Being there. Not letting the cancer scare you away.

My 26 year old son was diagnosed with testicular cancer in two years ago this month. He said what meant more than anything to him was for people to just treat him as they always had in the past ... to not be afraid to ask him questions.

Hugs to you. You sound like a wonderful and perfect friend.

Debbie said...

Well shoot ... I didn't mean for that to post as Anonymous. It's me.

Sammanthia said...

I am so sorry for your loss. She sounds like she was amazing person and you an amzing friend.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

This is such a beautiful and powerful post. My heart goes out to you and your friend.

I also connect on many levels. I am a two year cancer survivor, a bookclub member, and a 10th grade English teacher.

I'm bookmarking you.