This past week, a friend’s child was diagnosed with cancer. A baby, just a few weeks out from his 12 month birthday.
I’ve been in a stupor, completely out of sorts. And then I’ve felt badly, like I’m co-opting someone else’s tragedy as my own.
My cousin is a powerful writer and a heavy thinker, and he thoughtfully reached out with the following words:
Just because it is not your child doesn’t mean you are not unsettled, despondent, and worried. You might find yourself unknowingly, perhaps even in your sleep, reaching outward, driven by the full force of the love inside you, fingers flexing again and again around weightless air, trying to shield a sick child from his sickness that is everywhere and nowhere. It is not your child. You are not the parent but the connective tissue exists. The diagnoses of cancer in a young person resonates out beyond the specificity of one family unit. Expressing that impact, especially when you are not directly involved, can be discombobulating. You might feel apart of the story but simultaneously far away
My favorite poet suggested in a poem that we should all slow down, throw out explanations that give contained, manageable meanings and instead just tell stories. I also know when telling a story falls outside my capacities as the narrator, it is important to not give up but rather turn to a more capable voice
He then provided to me a short story by Lorrie Moore, “People Like That Are the Only People Here” It’s hard to read, but this week was a hard week to live, and I found catharsis in reading it. If you’ve been following Marianne and Hugo’s story, it may be cathartic for you, too. I hope, anyway.
I personally have no comfort to give, but I can give you a story, and a more capable voice than my own.