Not much happening the last few days. Its hard to write anything here if there is nothing interesting to say. Everything I come up with either seems trivial or egotistical. Either I can’t imagine anyone being the least bit interested, or I do imagine everyone reading it and thinking, “who the Hell does he think he is?” So, however you find these few words, I hope some of it is interesting and not all of it makes you want to put a pillow over my face.
People change when they know you have cancer. No huge revelation there, I know. Cancer changes things. I’m sure I have changed as well but the change in others is more visible. Everyone is more patient, more courteous, less likely to disagree with my opinions, and there is a sadness or sympathy in their eyes. Or maybe I’m completely full of shit and one of my own changes is a hyper-sensitivity to the behaviours I see in others.
And people don’t know what to say. This is a truth of tragedy. Whether death & dying, disease, divorce or natural disaster, people have no idea what to say to those who directly suffer the losses. I know I go stupid the instant I hear someone tell me a horror has touched their lives. Its not just the shock of hearing about it for the first time either. I could learn someone suffered a terrible loss and have weeks to think about it before I next see them in person. As soon as they enter my field of view my brain will shut off. Blink! I have no fucking idea what to say. I know how hard it is to find the right words.
But I don’t want people to change. I want everyone to treat me exactly the same as they did three weeks ago. I don’t mean I want people to ignore the fact that I am sick. I just want them not to let that news change the way they feel about me. Pretend, for a moment, I have a broken leg or a concussion. Most of you would laugh at me, scold me and/or wonder aloud what the hell I was doing on a skateboard anyway. That’s all I want. If you have questions, ask them. Opinions? State them. Advice? Offer it. Just don’t treat me like I’m already half way across the Styx.
The fact is, there are no “right words”. At least not in the sense that these particular phrases suit the discovery of Cancer in someone’s body. What suits one person will undoubtedly offend another. If we’ve been close enough friends that your gut reaction is “Holy fuck man! Are you dying?”, I don’t want to hear how I and my loved ones are in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. Just be real my friends. Be real.
Today I’ll leave you with the words of 15 year old, Jack Carter, boy genius and my star employee at the Google Cardboard shopping mall carts. We split a platter of chicken wings the other day while I explained why we aren’t reopening the business right away. When I told him about the cancer he never hesitated. He just smiled at me and asked, “Whats on your bucket list?!”