As I sat down to eat dinner with my husband last night, I said good-bye to my friend who had called to see how I was doing. She read my last post, and was worried about me.
"I'm fine," I told her, just before hanging up the phone, "You don't have to worry about me."
"You're fine?" My husband questioned, wondering out loud about what we were talking.
I slipped into the seat across from him.
"...about the women from our group...." I explained.
"You're fine?" He asked again, now seriously perplexed.
"Well, I'm sad," I elaborated, "really sad. But I am OK."
I know he wondered how I could be OK. Part of me wondered the same thing.
It is entirely possible that the magnitude of the situation will hit me harder later on. Or not.
During our conversation, my friend had asked a very pointed question: "Were they worse than you?"
I suspected that they were, but had not thought about it too deeply. In order to reassure my friend, I reviewed the list: 1. one (E) was not very open - I do not even know what cancer she had - but I had the impression from the beginning that her situation was not so good; 2. another (P) had a different cancer, in a very advanced stage, and it was a miracle that she lived as long as she did; 3. the third (B) also gave me the impression that her situation was not very good; 4. the fourth (Tz) had discovered a new tumor, behind her eye, that the doctors had "missed" for several months. I knew that was not good, I just did not realize how devastating it would be. and 5. the fifth (Y), also had some sort of advanced cancer (maybe in her GI tract?), was older, and was clearly struggling with her diseases (though she also continued to work, which was easier for her than continuing to maintain her household). I had not realized that her situation had deteriorated.
"Yes;" I finally answered my friend, "I am not in the same place that they were."
And, with that, I placed them all into a separate category.
I am not like "them."
"My cancer" is under control. I am not in any immediate danger.
It is the truth.
My cancer is responding to treatment. It is stable. And I can live this way for a long time. (that's the plan!)
So, for my own self-preservation, I have to file away these stories and remind myself that I am different.
I am not deluding myself, but I am also not going down that road that leads to nowhere good.
I am sad, and slightly overwhelmed, by the loss. But I am not in that place (in the world of the dying). And I do not want to get stuck there.
Right now, I am firmly in the world of the living. I am busy with of end-of-the-year performances, and summer plans, and dirty dishes, and mundane complaints, and chatting on the phone, and running around, and trying to do everything for which there is never enough time.
So, please, don't stop calling me for advice about your problems. If your problems are not little to you, then they are not little to me. And don't apologize for telling me about your day to day life. I want to know what is going on with you. And don't worry about me.
I am OK.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism, ,
REPORT FROM THE R' AARON FELDMAN SPEECH AT BEIS TEFILA:
21 minutes ago