Friday, June 18, 2010

Words Fail

Me: "There are some things you do NOT say to someone facing cancer."
Offspring: "Like what?"

I don't know. I remember a close friend in high school who ceased to be a close friend after she explained to me that my cancer was just creepy. Wow. She was 17. And compassion wasn't really her thing. Apparently. So, I'm going to say that severing relationships and referring to one's disease as creepy would be on the "What Not To Do/Say" list. Instead of offering up a list of such unpleasantness, I decide we should consider this from an alternate perspective.

Me: "Maybe it's less about what not to say, than it is about what to say?"
Offspring: "Like what?"
Me: "Well, how about just a simple greeting, then ask how the person is feeling..."

We pull into the drive, and each of us grabs a hot or cold dish as we climb from the car. We walk to the door, and knock. The Lady of the House answers and welcomes us inside. She leads our procession to the porch where we place our offerings on the table set for their dinner. Her husband of almost four decades laughingly says he will not be rising to greet us today as he gestures to the towel over his lap covering the tubes that are in place after his surgery. We briefly chat, and the kids are shy, but polite. They love this place, and we are all tickled by the antics of a squirrel hanging off the edge of the swimming pool outside the windows. The talk turns to that of a bobcat that prowls the property on occasion.
I cannot be polite. This is monstrous. This thing threatens the peace and joy of this home, this marriage, this family. How can I help but rebel against such darkness in this place? I wade in by naming the darkness, but refuse to be daunted by it. I relate the good results of another who has shared this particular type of cancer in treatment, and in the life still being lived. Because I think what we should say is not that everything will be all right, but that we will be walking steadfastly alongside our friends through this journey. We will pray, laugh, cry, cheer, listen, and hope.

No comments: