Yesterday I learned that a dear friend has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. They can't start chemotherapy yet because she also has something else they're still trying to identify, and further tests will take ten days. She called me from the Imaging Department of the hospital with the news, not to weep or seek sympathy but to ask if I could pick her son up from the bus for her.
My friend is the type who won't tell anyone when she's in the hospital. She's the one who quietly serves, who takes food to new mothers and gives rides to the elderly. She isn't used to being on the receiving end and won't like it a bit. This trial ahead of her is going to test her ability to acknowledge when she needs help and seek the support of other women. I can't fathom the challenges ahead of her in facing this cancer, but I do understand her reluctance to admit to needing help, because I'm the same way. Knowing this, I won't wait for her to ask, but I'll watch for small things I can do to try to ease her burden. Starting with being at the bus stop.
As we spoke it became very clear to me that her main concern is for her teenage son, not for herself. She wants to make sure he's watched over and cared for and guided in his life, and she wants to be the one to do it. I pray that she will be granted that wish. If she isn't, the rest of us will need to be there for him. Really, we should be anyway, for all children.
News like this always snaps things back into perspective for me. How can I whine about my job when my friend would give anything to be able to just wake up to a normal day and go to work? How can I complain about my small aches and pains when they pale in comparison to cancer? How can I focus on the clothes on the floor or the dirty dishes in the bedroom when I am being granted the amazing opportunity to watch my son grow into a young man?