Wednesday, September 17, 2014

love is a sweet potato, and musings about illness

I sat at the kitchen table flipping through a wig catalog for cancer patients while my girlfriend chatted happily on the phone with her mother-in-law. "Yes, we'll come to see you soon," she chirped, while I sank inside, morose at the idea that my beautiful friend is going to lose her hair in two weeks. She had her first chemo treatment today. I googled it because she didn't give me the details.

Maybe you already know what to expect. I thought I knew, but not like this. Not up close.

I marked each day of her treatment in my calendar even though I'm not taking her to the sessions. I want to countdown to the end.

When I pulled up, she was sitting outside with neighbors around her, looking pale but happy.

I handed her a sweet potato because I tell people I love them with food. "Eat," I said, because I couldn't say what I really thought: I'm scared.

Then one neighbor, wrapping up to leave, hugged her and said, "I'm so relieved, you look great. You're not that sick afterall. You can do things still."

I put my arm protectively around my friend and she leaned into me. I could tell she was tired.

"It gets worse over the course of treatment," I said as gently as I could.

My friend looked at me gratefully, relieved of the burden of educating people about the illness she didn't ask for but now had to fight.

"Ah," said the neighbor, very astute. "So you will need many visits, not just tonight. Okay. I make you food."

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