You sit on your couch rubbing your own elbows, or you sit in your chair staring at the computer screen, thinking and feeling out this new pain you have acquired without wanting to. It makes you feel heavy, so heavy that after a day of carrying it around, you long for bed. You long for the kind of silence and darkness that numb you. And in this pain, with this pain, surrounded by all of it, you feel so alone. So separate from a greater whole of bodies stamped in imaginary ink with the word "healthy." You feel so singular, so isolated, maybe even unique.
But you couldn't be more wrong.
I mean this, not distastefully, but truthfully: I feel like I have just been accepted into an exclusive club. From the first dear friend, to the last stranger who found out about my grandmother's illness, the reception I've felt, the comfort I've received is rooted in a painful understanding. A too-close-for-comfort grasp on what it feels like--that slight yet piercing ache--to learn that you or someone you love has cancer. I know I have been so blessed, that God has shielded me and much of my family from illness, but I didn't realize until now just HOW blessed we have been and continue to be.
My friends have lost friends, grandparents, cousins. My friends have been fighting cancer battles, wars against mortality, for years. I just never realized it. I was never able to comprehend it. I never even thought about it.
Loss of all shapes, sizes and magnitudes is happening every minute, every second. As I type these words, breath is slipping out, a body is losing its footing, a fragile hand is going limp. We are constantly losing those who mold us, inspire us, challenge us, even those who give us the hardest time. And none of us is alone in our loss. None of us is alone in our fear. I feel the perfect opposite of what I thought I would feel.
I feel bonded to new friends, old friends, strangers in a way I struggle to describe. We are so many different people, living in so many different places, under varying circumstances, but don't we all love the same? Hurt the same? Ache the same? We cry the same. When we lose someone, the loss we feel is the same. And I find so much comfort in that togetherness. Despite the fact that it was born out of shared tears and heartache, it is so secure. Is it possible that our collective hurt is so tightly weaved that we produce warmth? All I know is that my heart is warmed at the time an old friend takes to share her story, or the thoughtfulness of a quick call just to check up on me. The strength of that kind of love amazes me. It restores my faith on days when I'm feeling like I just need some inspiration. It ignites the passion within me to write. It makes me so thankful to be blessed with my family and friends. And despite the circumstances, to now be a part of a group that is filled with such tremendous love and support that I feel anything but alone.