Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm scared

This morning shortly after waking, I got a text message from a very old and dear friend. She's in her early forties, like me. She has just been diagnosed with lung cancer.

We have no more news than that as yet--they are still doing the tests to find out where, how much, how advanced, or anything like that. She has never smoked, but members of her family have, and she's spent a lot of time in the secondhand stuff. And both of us spent our formative pub-going years during the time before smoking in bars was outlawed.

This is the first time, for me, this disease has hit someone young and really beloved to me. I'm shocked, I'm scared, and I'm angry. Angry at the world we've let be created for us, the world so full of toxic crap all around that we have to be obsessive eccentric greenpeople to even cut out a portion of it from our own bodies and those of our children. Angry that she's thousands of miles away and I can't be with her. Angry that the economy has put so much pressure on her and her family in the past few years, ramping up her stress levels to a fever pitch as she tries to keep her family together and healthy, with food to eat and a place to live and children she protects from realizing how hard things really are. And I can't quite seem to stop crying for more than thirty seconds at a go.

I've been green-blogging for a couple of years now. And through most of that time I've had my own little defense mechanisms--I can treat this as sort of a game, a fun little challenge to try to make my life a little better, put less stress on the planet, and help my children be as healthy and strong as they can be. I can say, okay, what one person can do isn't really enough, but it's something, and so I'm cool with that.

Today, as on some rougher days, or some of those two-in-the-morning insomnia bouts, I'm hit with the much harder truth--What one person can do really isn't enough. And I'm not cool with that. I'm not cool with it at all.

This is one of those posts where there aren't any answers, any helpful suggestions for green living, any fun crafty ideas or mini-rants about some ingredient in a greenwashed lipstick. This is a frustrated cry into the darkness, a big question mark following a question so big I can't even verbalize it.

And all the while I am holding onto the dream shared with my dear friend, one we've talked about probably a hundred times since we met--the vision of two really old women, one rail-skinny and dressed with impeccable taste(her), one round and squishy wearing crazy gypsy shawls and scarves and no makeup but still with all her teeth (me), sitting on the boardwalk by the beach together eating french fries cooked in peanut oil and chasing them with ice cream cones. We'll sit there and tell stories and people-watch and check out the cute guys old enough to be our great-grandsons, and laugh uproariously until people glance over at the two crazy old ladies.

I want that dream. I want there to be a world in 50 years where kids still swim on the beaches in summer, and the food easily available won't poison us even as it nourishes us. I want the sun to be warm but not scary.

Mostly I just want my friend to be there.


Nana Sadie said...

Oh Jenn. I'm so sorry and I ache at your frustration. Vent away, rail at the world. It is a given that life is not fair and that's JUST.NOT.FAIR.

I'm praying for your friend, and I'm really praying that you'll both be on that beach...

Anonymous said...

Hey Jenn - so sorry to hear about your friend. I have two friends struggling with cancer and it is so tough to imagine life without them. I pray that your friend heals completely from her cancer.

Meanwhile, these dark times are exactly why we have friends - just be there for her as best you can. There aren't any easy answers when something like this happens - you just keep doing what you can to make your friend's life better and the world a better place. What is it that Mother Teresa said? "We can't do great things, we can only do little things with great love."


Liz said...

Sorry to hear about your friend. I hope that the cancer can be treated and beaten.

SustainaMom said...

I am so, so sorry. Wishing the best possible diagnosis for your friend.

Green Bean said...

I'm very sorry. Cancer is a mean and ugly disease. I really hope you get to sit on the beach with her and look back at this disease as something else you ladies beat along the way.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Welcome to the club. She has a long road ahead of her and hopefully they caught it early. In addition to my husband's cancer, I know too many non-smokers who had lung cancer at an early age.

I also hope she lives near a good cancer treatment center because that is very important in reducing the stress of having to travel to get good care.

AmazinAlison said...

I had a similar experience with my cousin 2 years ago, except that it was a rare kind of liver cancer that usually only alcoholics get and my cousin is not a drinker. She recovered really, really well from a pretty drastic treatment, so here is to hoping that a young age and other wise good healthy will be help your friend beat the beast!

In the meantime it is really hard. Hang in there :)


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