When my dear friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer a year ago this past April, and I went to see him twice a day in the hospital over the few weeks between his diagnosis and death, I made a concerted effort to be positive, make him laugh, be sensitive of his state of mind, and let him set the duration of the visits.
I'd walk out of his hospital room, make it only a few strides down the hallway, and feel the tears and grief wash over me in a tidal wave. But in his presence, I kept it together, and I did that for his sake, because I was sure he had enough to deal with, without having to comfort me.
I had been procrastinating about telling his lifelong partner about my cancer diagnosis, because I dreaded his response. It's all still raw and new for him, and he's still struggling with the loss of the love of his life. My own partner has been gently pushing me to let him know, asking would my friend want to have the news, or prefer ignorance? I knew I should tell him, but for both his sake and my own, I kept putting it off for one more day.
2 days ago, I finally told him, and just now received an email from him which brought the hot sting of tears to my eyes; his pain came through so clearly in his loving response. It's agonising to listen to, and feel the pain, of those who love me ,as they fight their way through their fears and distress about the diagnosis.
Yesterday another friend asked rather bluntly whether I was thinking about the possibility of dying, or was I in denial about that?
I'm finding it exhausting to deal with all of the powerful emotions being expressed to me. about me.