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.