What a great day I was having. The rain stopped, chores were quickly accomplished and, my God, did my hair look awesome. I promised Sean I would drop him off at his friend's house so off we went on the LIE blasting Rush. When we got there his friend's mom, whom I had never met before, came out to introduce herself and asked how I was feeling. Clearly, Sean told her what was going on. "I'm doing really well, thank you," I said. Then she gave me the look and reached out for my hand. "Oh Jesus Christ, here we go," I thought. She told me her best friend had fought breast cancer...and died. "But she had Stage IV and there's just no coming back from that," she said. I sat in my car just staring straight ahead. I couldn't move. I didn't respond. "Well, best of luck with everything!" she said as she waved goodbye. "Thanks" I said. Thanks. That was the best I could come up with. I looked down and my whole body was shaking.
As I drove away, Joe called to check in. I told him what happened and began sobbing so badly I had to pull over. Then I did what I always do in times like these; I called my sister. We discussed at great length the cluelessness of people and the insensitivity most display at the worst possible times. This woman had no idea what she was saying, that much is clear. I know she meant no malice and would most likely want to crawl in a hole if she ever found out my entire story. But somewhere in her mind wasn't there a voice that said, Shhhhh....don't say that? If so, she ignored it. Obviously, her need to tell me superseded my possible need not to hear it.
I'm writing this because I know someone reading it will soon encounter a similar situation. 1 in 4 people in the US have some form of cancer. We're everywhere!!! So listen up. Are you with me? Good. When you find out someone has cancer tell that person you're sorry, but don't be dramatic. I've had acquaintances become so hysterical I was afraid my eyes were going to be permanently stuck in the upright position. Follow their lead. If they don't elaborate keep your mouth shut. Don't ever, ever say you knew someone who had it and they died. Don't talk about stages. Offer to help in any way you can, if you so choose, but then leave it at that. Remember what your mama told you growing up. If you have nothing nice to say...keep your big, pie hole shut! And back to my happy place.