It was a Saturday morning and usually whoever woke up first, (AKA Brian), would jump up and down on the bed yelling, “Get up! Get up! The game is almost on!”
The best part about living on the West Coast? No matter what time you wake up- there’s always a college football game about to start.
However, this Saturday I woke up first and there was silence.
Finally, Brian rolled over and said, “I guess you should cancel our brunch plans for tomorrow.”
Then he rolled back over in the bed.
My heart sank. I knew Brian had been excited for weeks to see his friend and their family.
I held my breath — for the first time, in a long time, I didn’t know what to say.
It had been days since we received the news and Brian had not told anyone. There was a very selfish part of me that felt burdened by this. I wanted to run down the street screaming, “HEY! GUESS WHAT?! LIFE SUCKS! I DID NOT SIGN UP FOR THIS!”
Brian and I are very different people. I am the “event planner”. I hold weekly girl gabbing sessions in my backyard. I have friends I work with. I have friends I work out with. Friends I talk about God with. Friends I like to shop with. If you move away? No worries! That’s what phones are for. In fact, one of my BFs is my neighbor- which was no accident. I helped her find the house. The 45 minute commute and phone bill were getting to be too much for the both of us.
I also make her Irish on St. Patty’s day
However, Brian is NOT a planner. He’d rather attend the party, not run it. I have one friend I have known since I was 12, Brian has several. His friendships run deep and long. While on the surface he seems quiet and reserved, he’s not. He is funny and VERY chatty. He is just selective with his thoughts and sharing them. He may not see his friends everyday but he loves them.
I knew he was holding back because he did not want to burden anyone. But it wasn’t my place to tell him what to do. (This was a moment of ENLIGHTENMENT- since it was probably the first time in our marriage I felt that way.)
I broke the silence, “Of course I can cancel. You want me to make up something? I’ll say whatever you want.”
He looked up at me, “We should probably tell them, right? Is that OK? Do you think it is OK to tell them and could you do it?”
I gazed into his eyes, I knew he felt helpless too.
“Brian, I think if you want to tell your friends, it is not only OK but they will be there to help you and cheer you on. There is no right or wrong.”
“Ok…call them,” he said.
My hand was trembling as I dialed the number. I kept thinking, “Please don’t cry”. They weren’t home so I left a message to call me.
Twenty minutes later, our phone rang. Brian watched as I answered…
Suddenly, a wave of calmness overcame me. I was hopeful, but direct. I could hear tears welling up in his friend’s eyes as he asked questions, but Brian was still watching me…so I presented the facts and explained that we’re going to “kick the shit out of cancer”.
As I hung up the phone, Brian smiled. Then he told me who else he would like me to call.
By 7pm, Brian had friends by his side. In fact, he was never alone again. He had a friend who would bring him video games. A friend who would watch football with him. A friend who would invite him to church. A friend who would watch movies with him. And a friend who would bitch with him.
As I watched him laughing over video games and the wheat grass growing in our kitchen, I learned something new about my husband and his friends. Their relationships weren’t much different than mine.
I also learned something new about my husband. It wasn’t that he “didn’t” want to tell anyone, he just did not know how. So I decided I would not just be his patient advocate, but I would be his voice when he didn’t have the strength to speak. In the end, he was the one who needed to do the ass-kicking — and he needed to save his energy.”
As we went to bed that night, he commented how there were so many more people to tell and he was tired. Finally he joked, “Is there a Facebook status button that says, I have cancer?”
“No”, I laughed, “But if you need me to make one, I will.”