Fuck Cancer! You Can’t Take My Friends!
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I don’t write a lot about the touching and beautiful parts of my day. I like to save those thoughts for the dark parts of my day, like now when the kids are finally at school and all I feel like doing is lying in the fetal position and drinking litres of coffee. Which would mean I wouldn’t be lying in bed much longer because, bathroom. But I am planning on making an exception today.
I have had the good fortune to spend time lately with people in my life who are struggling with cancer. Wonderful women who inspire me and take me out of the dark to shine brightly through their own darkness.
I can’t say that I have been the best of friends to these women during their illness. I have done what I can but don’t feel it is enough. But I have learned a lot about myself and about the strength of character in the friends I choose. OK, so both of those things are about me. Did you really expect anything else?
My childhood friendships were scattered. I was not in the cool kids group in high school. I was friends with people in that group, but I was also friends with stoners, jocks, book nerds, band geeks and theatre folks. I was always trying to find who I was and always losing the map.
Then I became a mom.
Sure, I still have some BC (before children) friends, but the ones I think about the most, talk to the most and rely on the most are those friends that I met after kids. One of my first parenting influences was a fabulous mother by the name of Fantasia (Not her real name but I think she would appreciate it). Fantasia is a larger-than-life personality with a smaller than norm house and the biggest of hearts you would ever find. When she found out that there were new mothers on the waiting list for a mothers programme in her neighbourhood, she just started one of her own in her house. We exercised for an hour and then talked for an hour every Wednesday while lovely ladies looked after our infants in the basement. It was my saviour.
One day we were talking and Fantasia asked each of us to say something that we did for ourselves every day. I was fifth in the circle and I was sweating. I didn’t do any of the things these other mothers did for themselves every day: read, call a friend, sit down with some chocolate, watch their favourite show. I was barely able to make it every Wednesday and I had to congratulate myself on that each week. My turn and I said ‘All I can think of is I make sure I have a shower every day’. Seems so simple, but to some of the ladies in that room, it was monumental. Fantasia practically squealed. That is the moment I realized the friends I made after kids would understand me in a totally different way than the ones I had had for a lifetime. That was also the moment I understood them. They had each prioritized something for themselves everyday and the shower would have to wait. I prioritized the shower and the show would wait (my priorities have changed BTW).
About the same time I was part of a public heath group called Baby Comes Home for new mothers with questions for a nurse. I was chatting with one of the other mothers after class and mentioned Thunder Bay, my hometown, actually by accident. A wonderful woman came bounding over and asked if I had mentioned Thunder Bay because she was from there. We became sisters that day and I have valued her input on my life’s decisions, my weakest moments, my perceived failings as a mother and wife. She has wiped my tears and told me to stop giving a fuck and handed me a glass of wine and some cheese. She had kidnapped me and brought me to someone who could help when I needed it. I will call her Bestie. Bestie truthfully is the sister I chose and I could not have done the parenting-at-home thing without her. She is my backup carpool, my Wednesday morning chat and my forever friend.
Both of these ladies are battling cancer. I can’t even tell you how much they mean to me without busting into tears because they would both tell me to just stop. So I will (not). The tears are because I am frightened for sure, but also because I am, again, inspired by these women. I don’t know if either of them realize how important they have been in shaping my parenting and my choice in friends. I need friends who can tell me to shut my pie hole and put up my feet. I need friends to show me that being chill around your kids when they are climbing radio towers and roofs is the best way to get them down. I need friends to drop everything when one of my kids does not come home at the appointed hour. I need friends who are ok with me if I shower and if I don’t. So that is who I choose.
I am so fortunate to have found the friends I have. I am amazed that they accept me despite my obvious idiosyncrasies. I think they are all the bees knees. I am lucky.
So I want to raise a glass to inspirational friends and repeat after me: Fuck cancer! Leave our friends alone!
Is is with great sadness that I update this post. Fantasia lost her battle with cancer but won in the battle of life. I will miss her and the world is one star short.
If you want to spread the love, consider donating. Cancer belongs to all of us, and the solution to it is everyone’s responsibility. Please donate to the #CIBCRunfortheCure today to support breast cancer research: http://bit.ly/1Vz0Z68
For all other cancers consider supporting your local cancer society or the Canadian Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/support-us/make-a-personal-donation-on/?region=on
Finally, if you want a really good cry watch this YouTube video. Kristine out.