Since my diagnosis, I’ve gotten some amazing gifts, including the coolest gift ever, but I’ve also gotten notes from people with incredibly kind words. One friend shared that she would probably never have become the strong feminist she is if she hadn’t met me. Another said that my non-judgy-ness got her through a very rough patch in her motherhood. One of my coworkers said at my retirement party that I am the best lawyer he’s ever worked with. I had no idea these folks felt that way, until they wrote me those notes. It means a lot to me that I’d touched their lives.
The thing is, why DIDN’T I know they felt that way? It’s because we don’t usually say these things to people until they’re dying. And then suddenly, we forget all the bad shit, and just focus on the good. You forget the million times I stuck my foot in my mouth or was catty or dropped the ball and didn’t show up to help when you needed it, and you remember the time I got you drunk when your boyfriend dumped you and told you that you were so money and you didn’t even know it.
I’m not dying today. As I told my oncologist the other day, I’m feeling the best I have since this shitshow began. Except, I kind of am dying, just in very very very slow motion. And that’s why people send me these notes saying how much they love me and what I mean to them, when they haven’t ever done anything like that before–because I have a terminal illness.
But the thing I’ve learned from having that terminal illness is this–we’re all dying. All of us. Not one of us is going to get out of life alive. We just don’t like to think about it, because we hope it’s so far off in the future, but one day you will be dead. As Bill Shatner said, “This may come as news, but…you’re gonna die. You’re gonna die. By the time you hear this, I may well be dead. And you, my friend, might be next. ‘Cause, we’re all gonna die.”
I’m gonna say this. I think it’s crap that we have to wait until we’re aware that we’re gonna die, before people tell us all these nice things about what we mean to them. That’s total fucking bullshit, you guys. Seriously, this should not be a perk of having cancer, to have people tell you that you’re awesome. It should happen every day. You should be going out and telling the people who have meant something to you, who have been there for you when you needed it, that they’re awesome and that you love them. I should be doing it too, and I haven’t been, but I’m going to now. Because, we’re all gonna die.
Homework: every day, say something nice to someone who has meant something to you. I’m not saying you should look up that ex-boyfriend who treated you like shit–I’m saying, the people in your life who you love, but you haven’t told them so, you should tell them so. Tell them thank you. Tell them what you admire about them. Imagine they’re dying–because really, they are–and give yourself license to forget the dumb stuff for a minute, and appreciate the good. It’s gonna make them feel good, and it’s gonna make you feel good too.