There were, however, certain stories that I did want to hear, or better yet, that I needed to hear to power my hope muscles. I craved stories of cures. Perflect plots. Happy endings.
That seems like such a long time ago.
* * *
Yesterday during an extended lunch break, I participated in my first “Google Hangout.” It was an event sponsored by Dana-Farber’s Young Adult Program and lead by my therapy lady, Dr. Karen Fasciano. There were six young adult cancer survivors including myself and the other individuals whose Twitter handles and blogs are beautifully laid out in Bret Hoekema's most recent blog linked HERE.
I hadn’t thought much about the event leading up to it, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since.
You know that Maya Angelou quote that I’ve included here at least twice before? The one about how people will forget what you did and what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel? That’s a great quote for yesterday.
Although I tried to take a few notes to write down all of the brilliant insight this group of young adults provided, I eventually gave up. Because I found myself nodding and agreeing with almost every single point that was shared. I found myself in awe of these men and women’s eloquence, honesty, and strength. Of the passion they so clearly have for life.
Throughout the program, I had this feeling inside me that is difficult to describe. I’d label it, “connection,” if I had to pick a word. It was an awkward thing because, at least in this case, it was a mix of joy, relief, anxiety, sadness, fear, purpose, and hope. And I don’t include any of those words without powerful examples in my mind to back up each of them.
Yesterday’s program taught me several things, including how differently I feel around other young adult cancer patients now as compared to the several months after my diagnosis. I am no longer repulsed by their stories, but rather, drawn to these individuals like long lost friends. I thought about that more after we all hung up. Why did I feel so connected to these people?
Now, I know partly why. Because they get it. What’s “it?” you may ask. To be honest, I don’t really know. Maybe "it" is about expecting life then, all of the sudden and for no explainable reason, facing death. Maybe "it" involves reluctant acceptance, or paralyzing desperation, or heart-throbbing hope. Or maybe "it" is about the realization that if we are open only to the perfect story, then we will miss lots of real-life stories that are better, way better, despite when the ending may come.
Hanging out, if only virtually, with young adults who get it was a true gift. And even if I don't get what "it" is, that's okay. Because I bet they do.