This past week I learned something about my new identity as a breast cancer survivor/blogger that I was not entirely prepared for. I found out how much I genuinely care about the new friendships I have formulated over the past few months with other survivors/bloggers.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, A Thank You, one of the very first breast cancer blogs I visited was Brenda’s blog. After considerable contemplation and finally beginning Nancy’s Point a few months ago, I invited Brenda to “visit.” She stopped by and commented and pretty quickly we discovered some similarities between us. One of those was, of course, breast cancer and also the BRCA2 gene mutation. Another was our mutual love of writing, another was our love of dogs and yet another was the fact both of us had loving, supportive husbands to walk side by side with us through our journeys. Brenda always mentioned her beloved James whenever possible. When I heard Brenda’s husband had unexpectedly passed away the day after Christmas, I was struck by the intensity of my feelings of sadness and empathy for her, a friend I have never even met.
My intense reaction to my new friend’s loss somewhat surprised me at first, but the more I thought about it, I realized the connections that have been forged in such a short time between myself and other bloggers, are indeed quite strong already. Friendships such as this are one of the greatest gifts of blogging, (I’m pretty sure some readers feel a similar connection, it’s not just the writers), but are also a potential source for unexpected sadness. We share such personal pieces of our lives, how could we not grow to care about each other? How could we not feel the impact when one of us experiences joy as well as heartache? After all, that’s what friendship is all about.
I also realized proximity is irrelevant when you are someone’s friend, as is meeting them face to face.
I hesitated to write this post. Then I hesitated to post it. Maybe it’s not appropriate, maybe I’m being presumptuous. But then again, maybe I’m not. Maybe it is appropriate. My blog, after all, is a blog about breast cancer and loss. Also, maybe others are having feelings similar to mine after hearing this news. Like me, maybe others feel tremendously saddened.
I thought about how whenever I don’t know what to do, I turn to writing. Writing heals. That’s why I decided to go ahead with this post today. I decided to go ahead because I know Brenda is first and foremost a writer. She left a comment one time on my blog stating, “Writing is my solace, my compass, the constant during every phase of my life.” She will need this compass now more than ever. That’s why I believe she will turn to writing again when the time is right, in order to help herself heal from this devastating loss. She will also turn to writing again in order to help others, because that’s what she always does. At least I hope she will. (If you click on Brenda’s Blog at the above link and read her seeringly honest account of James’ passing, you will find she has already returned to her “compass.”)
Cancer is really hard. Losing people we care about is even harder. Simplistically stated, moving forward can be really hard as well. Knowing others care about what you are going through, be it cancer, loss or something else life has thrown at you, might just help a little. That’s my hope anyway.
Speaking for so many of us “out here” in this community you are such a huge part of, I want to say, we are sorry for your loss, Brenda. Your friends are here for you. Even though undoubtedly at times you feel like it, you are not alone.
How do you help a grieving friend?