So in the last few months I have lost two very young friends to cancer.
I have had to learn some things in this process of loss. There had to be a reason, or an outcome from this grief. Of course the lessons could be a multitude of things but in the face of all this death I have learned something about myself.
“Terminal Cancer” means the end is inevitable. There is no cure.
Apparently my brain although accepting this truth, seemed to deceive itself into thinking this means later rather than sooner. So in essence I believed the disease was incurable but that didn’t mean they would die now…. It couldn’t happen now. I realised this in trying to figure out how I totally reeled from the news that they had passed. It was a shock. And I thought to myself that it shouldn’t have been a shock, I should have been prepared. Then came the guilt. oh my god, if only I had known how little time we had left (which I did) I would’ve visited/messaged/called more.
Denial. Ahhhhh. I didn’t want to believe my two very young friends would die before me. I convinced myself we had time. Incurable but without imminent death. The fact that I went through the death of one friend only to slip into the denial and go through the death of the second under the same veil of shock and in defiance of the true meaning of terminal, I have to ask why. Was I protecting myself? If someone else should tell me they have a terminal illness, will I face that honestly and admit what it really means or is my need to protect myself by sheer denial stronger than the lesson I have learned? Probably. I didn’t want to expect my friends to die. In all honesty I really didn’t want to watch them die. But they are gone. The one thing I can say is that I didn’t treat my friends like they were dying. I think they appreciated that. I hope.
I am angry because they won’t get to do the things they should’ve still done like travel, write a book, film a movie, perhaps marry, perhaps have kids, build a home. I realise I have these idealistic expectations of what they should have been able to do with their lives. My reaction after AJ died was to come up with a bucket list a mile long.
Then out of the blue reality set in. I may have wished wonderful things for my friends but realistically that life may have included a divorce, kids in rehab, retrenchment, critics, failure to reach goals, car accidents, horrid co-workers, horrible neighbours, debt and deaths of friends and family.
Ok. Stop. So am I glad they don’t have to go through the negative? Not really. I think they should’ve had all the up and downs that life has to bring. That is living. So the one lesson I am taking away from this, that may actually hold, is that I get to still have ups and downs and blessing and disasters, for which I shall be grateful. My bucket list is a great way to start doing things I want to do, but in between I know there will be heartache, and disappointment and despair. I intend living so damn hard. I shall love deeply knowing that I may hurt badly. I will set out on crazy adventures that may result in setbacks, injury, and disappointment. I will climb mountains knowing that I can fall, and if I do fall, so be it. Rosie and AJ won’t get to fall down a mountain.
I shall create a bunch of memories, good, bad, ugly and epic. I wanted my friends to have more life. All of it. With all its blessing and curses. I cannot let them down again. So excuse me while I make crazy decisions, huge mistakes, irresponsible choices. So I won’t have a fancy house, and a fancy car thank you very much…… an you will all have to excuse me while I walk to work greeting beggars and the mentally ill along with the rich and powerful. Excuse me while I choose to backpack some exotic 3rd world island with nothing but a prayer and a camera instead of buying a new wardrobe, excuse me while I love someone so deeply that it seems a tad unhealthy. Excuse me while I choose a calling rather than a professional career.
…… I’m going to live. However that comes.
Rosie, AJ …… I am going to live beautifully, hideously, stupidly and in the most epic manner. Remembering you always.