Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sharing The Pain

Marcie and I shared some very difficult days early on in her battle with cancer. I'll write about them another time. After her first round of chemotherapy and surgery, the reconstruction and some extra medical therapy, those terrible, pessimistic days faded for a while.

But when Marcie suffered a seizure in the parking lot of the Union-Tribune and called me from the hospital, they returned with a vengeance. She had brain cancer which had spread to four places. Marcie immediately felt she was doomed.

Every few weeks after that, as I clung to every nugget of good news, Marcie would cautiously test the waters of my reality. Sometimes she would adjust it a bit.

"Honey?" she would ask, oftewn interrupting me as I talked about next week, next month, next year. "You know I am probably going to die from this, right?"

I would nod, and lamely defend myself in a smiling but serious way, "I am trying to plan for the best, prepare for the worst. I think you'll be alright. You could be totally OK, and that's what I hope for."

But sometimes she would fall apart at that, and sometimes the happy bubble I tried to make for her would pop. Usually, I could just hold her and stroke her back as she cried. I wanted to reinforce her with my will and hold up for her. I always could do that.

"Sh, sh, sh, baby," I would say. "I know you're afraid, but I need to believe you are going to get better. Either way, I am going to be here, I promise."

But sometimes it was just not what she needed to hear from me. Sometimes, she needed to KNOW that I knew. Marcie needed to feel that I had and acknowledged the same despair she was struggling with.

"Honey, you need to share with me," she said. "You're holding your anger and your sadness and your fear inside, and that's not healthy."

"I'm OK, honey. I'll wait until I have a reason to be afraid and sad. I am already angry."

That's when she would hit me with it. "I need to know that you are sad," she would say. "I need to know you are afraid, and I need you to stop hiding it because when you do I wonder if it's there."

And then it would be her turn to hold me for a while. "Sh, sh, sh, baby," she would say. "Don't worry, you'll be okay. I have to think you'll be alright. That's what I hope for."

Marcie, rest assured that I'm working on being okay. I am sad. I am angry at the fact you were taken from me.

But I am not afraid, because you are my heroine. And even if I can only touch you in dreams, I know you are here with me, either way.


Tomorrow, I will share a special list with all of you in a video clip.