A friend of mine is dying. I can’t remember if we’ve ever spoken on the phone. I know, with certainty, that we have never met in person. Still, I will call her my friend.
I met her on this young adult cancer journey of mine, just as I was beginning to grapple with everything that cancer had taken in its tight little grasp. We stayed in very loose contact, mostly over social media; liking photos and wishing birthday thanks as time went by.
Then her cancer came back and it came back with a vengeance. She sought alternative treatments and then resorted to chemotherapy. Before losing her beloved hair, she married her sweetheart. Just the other day, she made it to her 6 month wedding anniversary.
She wasn’t supposed to live that long.
I think of her every day. I think about what I could say to her that might help while still being fully aware that I don’t actually know her that well. I have never met her, never really carried on a conversation with her that didn’t revolve around cancer, yet I feel so connected to her. I think about what she must be thinking. I wonder if she is mad or sad. I want to ask her about death. I want to tell her that she can confide in me, that she can have the hard conversations with me if she wants, while also knowing that it is probably not with me that she wants to go through those transition-like talks.
I know, deep inside, that I want to have these conversations for her, but also for me. I want to hear what conclusions she has come to about death and dying, about heartache and loss, because the truths in her life right now frighten me.
I see in her what could so easily happen to me.