Yesterday I started my morning like just about every other morning – got up, woke the kids, got dressed, came downstairs to make myself coffee, saw my husband off to work, waved the kids off to school, went back into the house for my second hit of caffeine and finally sat down at the computer in my make-shift office in the dining room to read emails.
A friend who repatriated this summer back to Louisville, KY, where she’s from, had sent out a blanket email that started like this:
“Hi Girls, Hope all is well and miss seeing everyone so much!! Our move to Louisville this summer was somewhat uneventful and we are almost settled in. The last couple days have been more eventful than I would ever wish for. Sorry to let you know this by email…but last week I was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
I know this sounds cliché, but the words in the rest of the email were illegible from that point. I pushed my laptop back towards the messy, messy pile of papers, grabbed hold of both sides of the table and lay my head down on my make-shift, messy, messy desk with my messy, messy mind.
And I just sat there with my left cheek pressed to the warm wood of the dining table looking out the window into the garden. I’m not even sure how long I stared or if I blinked or where my thoughts went. For those few moments, I was simply lost.
I’ve been sucker-punched like this before. Twice. And if there is a more eloquent way to describe the reaction one has when a friend announces she has cancer, then please advise me because all it feels like to me is a swift, painful, deep sucker-punch.
When I finally sat up to write her a response, this is all I could come up with:
“F***. F***. F***.”
I started this page—this “Monday Night Cocktail Club” (MNCC) page—so that we girlfriends, mothers, sisters, friends could have a place to connect with each other. When I wrote the Band-Aid rip, so many of you reached out to me and told me you finally felt understood and that it was “reassuring to know that someone out there ‘gets’ it”.
I created the MNCC because I wanted a place where we could share our stories—the joy and the pain—and just listen and not judge. I wanted a forum where any of us could say what was on our mind and allow our “voice” to be heard. My sister, L, teases me incessantly and says, “Oh geez, Kate, you’re getting all ‘Let’s get in touch with our spirit’ shit.”
I’m fine with that, with recognizing that at times our souls feel like they’ve been trampled and stomped on because we’re so overwhelmed with what’s happening around us—things we have no control over.
I eventually wrote my friend a proper response to say that it all felt so déjà-vu because two years ago another friend, Becky, walked the same painful path. I copied our close friends— including Becky on my short message—that we would all send our faith, strength and prayers. I was at a loss though. I had lost my voice.
It’s amazing what girlfriends can do. It’s amazing how when you’re down and flat out and feel like you’ve been kicked in the gut, a girlfriend will swoop in and take over, be your “Second.” I call them my “wingmen.”
A few hours later, Becky responded to my friend, whom she doesn’t really know that well, if at all:
As a side note….
– you can handle this!
– it only sucks for a short time
– they are just boobs
– the new boobs are amazing
– make your friends and family do the cooking/cleaning
– take lots of walks before, during and after
– drink lots of water before, during and after
– ice cream is the only thing that tastes yummy! And that’s not a bad thing
– remember to love yourself and be strong! It’s only a short time in retrospect to the span of your life and all the years you have to look forward to!!!
I’m always available if you ever need to chat!
So you see, I didn’t need to speak. Beautiful Bex found her voice, drew from her own strength and experience and she spoke for me.
My friend, Maile, is always telling me, “Always believe in the strength of the human spirit.” I can hear her voice now too.
It’s amazing what girlfriends can do.
Déjà-vu. I’ve seen this before. In the end, goodness and positivity always prevail.