Originally published 12/11/14
It finally happened today. I met the woman whose experiences in the past couple months have been close enough to mine to feel that someone actually could know what it feels like to be me right now. And it felt painfully glorious.
We met in the elevator. She spoke sharply to someone on the phone, so I turned. I looked at her pained, teary face and asked if she’d like to sit together for a few minutes. “I can’t,” she replied. "I cannot take a moment off. I need to answer questions and make decisions and be available. I cannot sit. I haven’t eaten today. I haven’t showered for three days.” I understood.
Her husband is going home on hospice tomorrow. The cancer from his brain has spread. A very different situation. But until they received that information yesterday, her experience had been a lot like mine. My turn came, and she listened and teared up, nodding. She knows. She’s right there, right now. “There are no good stories here,” she said. We scanned the room. “Believe in a way back,” is their slogan. Our eyes hit it at the same time. “They should change that," I said. "There’s no going back. Only forward.” “It’s bullshit," she replied. "I hate those signs.”
I thought I was the only one.
In twenty minutes of kinship we found so many shared experiences. We both felt ourselves inadequate but were impressed by the other. I am confident that we are both doing the best with what we have. We do disagree on one thing. I think that there are many good stories to be found at Magee. For me, good is not synonymous with easy. Or desirable. A good story makes me think and grow. And there exists the potential for both when walking amongst people whose lives have turned on a dime.
We sat. She ate some soup. And we connected. So intensely, and so briefly. Because we both need to keep running.