I got a whatsapp message yesterday

It concluded “I really appreciate your friendship”. It made me pause. I have known her for about three weeks. She is a complex and interesting woman. Our relationship is light in some ways and very intense in others, but I hadn’t really thought of her as a friend.

Sharon has acute myeloid leukaemia, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. I am one of the 27% of people who have survived it.

I didn’t blog about it at the time, and I kept it off facebook and Twitter. But I have insights and experience that need to be shared. How it was for me…the small indignities as much as the unspeakable pain. I need to talk about these things now. I need to process the last six months of 2017 in a way that I couldn’t while I was dealing with it.

So I visit the sick and dying – unusual for an atheist. I take sanitary towels and bottled water. I talk and I listen. Which meals on the Fedics menu are the worst… which isolation ward is the best. I show pictures of my tongue, and my legs, taken in September last year. I talk about death. And gossip about the nursing staff.

Sometimes, afterwards, I get into my car in the hospital parking lot and put my head on the steering wheel and sob. But mostly I am quietly centred by the visit. It is therapeutic for me to be back in that space in a different role.

Yes, Sharon is my friend. And I appreciate her friendship too.

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5 Responses to I got a whatsapp message yesterday

  1. astramcnicholl says:

    I love you so much and I’m happy you’re sharing this part of your journey. I’m starting to understand that our culture of shying away from hard conversations, people and situations is really damaging. I can’t really explain it but I feel like by not experiencing shared fear/grief we’re missing out on an important part of human connection. Have you read Braving the wilderness by Brené Brown yet? She really articulated what I’ve been starting to feel. I’m trying to lean into more uneasy moments in my life instead of shying away, it’s not easy but it feels really good…

  2. What a lovely sharing, and I’m so glad you’re finding ways to share your experience that feel meaningful and healing on new levels. I also second the recommendation of Braving the Wilderness – I’m only a few chapters in but wow, Brene always amazes me with her insight and how effectively she humanises such crucial and challenging aspects of our relationship with ourselves and others.

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