There was a time as a child that I'd watch the syndicated country music show HeeHaw. (I know, I don't often share that information publicly). One of the recurring songs on the show was entitled "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me" and I still recall all the words to this day (yes, this post gets scarier). One of the lines was "Deep Dark Depression, Excessive Misery." That's how I've been feeling lately, and though the song's humorous, this depression isn't. I can't shake it and it won't go away and no amount of antidepressant is going to make it better.
My friend Carol has cancer. A lot of cancer. A scary amount. The kind that's hard to treat.
Carol and I have been friends for about 15 years now. We taught together at Glendale Middle School and when our current school opened, we moved there together. She's taught both of my daughters, my youngest just last year. She's taught them about math, using sales and hiding new clothes from your husband to make a point. She's taught the youngest one to sew, a domestic art I seriously don't have a gene for. She's picked them up from school when I've been sick or detained, and she's brought me food when I've been sick. She came to my house to visit me when I had Katherine eleven years ago. She gave me hand-me-downs and gave my girls personalized bags. She's incredibly giving, taking care of her elderly mother and her two sons and her adoring husband, Bill. She took Bill's two sons into her heart when they married and calls his grandchildren hers as well. She's a shopaholic with a closet stuffed to the brim with gorgeous clothing. We've shared laughter and fun and tears.
Now she might not even live a month if this round of chemo doesn't work.
I want to question God but there's no point because I won't get an answer and it won't change anything. I should have faith. But how can you have faith when someone so good and loving, who was looking forward to a cruise with her husband this fall, will be lucky to live 6 months and probably not see her youngest son graduate high school in the spring?
Carol is on my mind constantly. If I find myself laughing, I feel bad because of her situation. When I spoke to her last week, she told me she was so scared. So am I. How did this non-smoker get lung cancer so invasive that it's spread to her brain before it was discovered? Carol's always been sickly but that means she's been under a doctor's constant care. How on earth could this have slipped by?
I'm also ashamed.
I'm ashamed because I want to run away from this. I want to pretend I don't even know Carol so it'll make the hurt and fear less. I want to protect my girls from this devastation. How can I, as a friend, feel like this? I saw her picture today and I wanted to get rid of it. I don't want to face this; I don't want to see her. And that's my own personal hurt and fear; I can only imagine what she's feeling now.
I've got to push myself to visit, to call, to let her know how much she's meant to me over the years of our friendship. This cannot be about me; I've got to reach beyond myself. But how do I do that? I don't want to lose my friend. In my heart, I know I'm going to and it makes me sick to my stomach. Running away won't help, but I still find myself wanting to. Carol has so many people praying for her that I've got to believe God's going to hear us. I'm so helpless and so wrapped up in this. How can my friend be dying? She was just at school on the first day, preparing her classroom and getting ready for a new year. Now she's already retired in order to focus herself on the biggest fight of her life.
Sometimes life just ain't fair and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.