A good friend came over today to tell me that she's been diagnosed with lymphoma. I'd known that she'd been undergoing some tests, that there was the remote possibility that something might be really wrong. Turns out she hit the remote possibility jackpot on this one. It was dumb luck, she says.
She's remarkably composed about the situation, which sounds complicated but not dire. Her doctor tells her that the disease is eminently curable, and she's taken that to heart, choosing to focus on the "what nows" rather than the "what ifs." I took my cues from her, asking more about practical matters than emotional ones, for which she seemed more than a little grateful. She's told very few people yet, and asked that I keep quiet for now, but said that she'd let me know when she wanted me to spread the word. "When you're ready for me to rally the troops, I will, but not a moment before," I promised her.
Thinking back about our conversation today and thinking ahead to the next few months, I'm a little surprised at how I'm feeling. I should be sad, I suppose, or frightened or vulnerable, or even angry. And I do feel those things to an extent. But what I primarily feel is lucky. I feel lucky for my own health, of course, but mainly I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to serve as a confidante and a support system to my friend. I feel lucky because we are both surrounded with a rich community which will support her through every step of this process. When she says the word, we'll spring into action and meals will be prepared, child care will be provided and groceries will appear on her doorstep. There will be people to talk with her and laugh with her and cry with her, if that's what she needs. She won't go through a minute of this alone, and should I be faced with similar adversity some day down the road, I won't have to go through it alone either.
That's no small thing, having a community to rally around you like that. I take it for granted some times, that there are dozens of women in my life whom I consider friends. Good people, people who I genuinely enjoy and who make a positive impact on me, have found their ways into my life in the past few years, even when I wasn't actively looking for them. I hear stay at home mothers talk all the time about how isolating being home with their kids can be, but I've quite frankly found the opposite to be true. I find interesting, vibrant, intelligent women who also happen to be home with their kids almost everywhere I turn, and I've been lucky enough to convert quite a few of them into real friends. I've stumbled into a group that I can call on for just about anything, and as today showed, those people know that they can call on me, too. I suppose you could say once again that it was just dumb luck. But this time, those words mean something very different.
There are many things in my life that I'm grateful for, and my husband and my children and our extended family are way up at the top of that list. But right up there with them is my family of friends. I know what I've got, and I know how special and important it is. And that's why my friend's news, while troublesome and upsetting, is not nearly as bad as it could be. I know that together, we'll all make this easier for her than it would have been if she'd had to face it alone. That's not dumb luck. It's just plain lucky.