Interested in my regular uplifting fare? Check out this post or this one. Or better yet, catch me today on Good Things Utah on ABC 4 talking about breastfeeding (Ah! Hot topic!). As if that weren't enough meg time (or perhaps too much meg time, ahem) I will also be on The Matt Townsend Show today at 4:30 talking about the art of self-talk. See you then.
I don't angry post very often. I try to make this an uplifting place. A little corner of the world to seek in the midst of a busy day.
For the most part, I have felt successful in that mission.
But, I am mad. So. A rant.
My dad was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia last December. It was traumatic and horrific and soul crushing. He started getting sick in October and the closer we get to that month the more frequent my panic attacks have gotten. Fall, my favorite time of year, holds little magic for me this go around. Intellectually, I understand this October is not last October. In theory, I know that this winter will not hold the things that last winter presented to me with cold, uncaring hands. It doesn't matter. I still wake up in the middle of the night ready to lose everything all over again. I don't, in my heart of hearts, really believe that I get to have any more beautiful Christmases. Last year, December 25th was pretending to be happy around my children that still believed in Santa. As the paper was ripped from packages, I had to breathe in and out through clenched teeth. I wanted to scream but the hurt was too deep to make the sound.
In April, my Dad had a bone marrow transplant. My brother donated and my dad thrived. It isn't a cure, it isn't remission. It is wait and see. And with many thanks on bended knee, we have taken that uncertainty and wrapped our arms around each day it gives us. It is a beautiful, fragile thing.
And I am sick to death of idiots that feel like their life experience gives them permission to break it.
It has happened to him over and over again, at meetings, on planes and in the pews of our church. The people are different but their stories and their utter lack of compassion, understanding and general grasp of the most rudimentary expectations of human social interaction are staggeringly the same.
It begins a different way each time. They notice the port he gets his medicine through, they heard from a friend of a friend he was sick, they ask what he has been doing for the past year. And then,
"Huh. Leukemia. You know my sister/son/father/girl from high school I know on FB had that. Yeah, they did a bone marrow transplant. And everything looked good. Really good for a month/year and then one day, he/she woke up and it was back. He/She was gone within a couple of weeks."
And then my dad sits there with his life held up in his hands and is actually polite to these complete wastes of space. He doesn't shame them or ignore them or advise them on how to talk to somebody with cancer. He actually interacts with them, commiserates with them, tells them to have a nice day.
He can be kind. But I don't have to, I can say what I want and what I think he should say every single damn time.
Shut the hell up. No one wants to hear from you. How do you think you helped me with your anecdote of death? How was your evacuation of misery beneficial to me? Do you think I don't know I might die? Do you think you are sharing something new with me? I don't care what you went through. Your experience is not my experience. Your loss has no bearing on my story. And I know what you are going to say, 'Oh, well, I have just been through so much. I was trying to connect, I was trying to share my feelings.' Bullshit. Your words are the embodiment of selfishness. The need to co-opt anyone's suffering, no matter what the cause, and make it your own is the height of immaturity and thoughtlessness. This may have not occurred to you, but this cancer has nothing to do with you. Let me repeat myself, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.
Stop making this about you.
May I offer some advice? The next time you run into someone that is post bone marrow transplant (and you will) there is a proper way to respond. Something along these lines would do just nicely, 'Oh my goodness. That is so hard. I know from personal experience the toll that can take on a family. I am so glad that you are here and doing well.' If they probe deeper and find out that you have lost a loved one to post transplant cancer there is no need to make them also feel like they will die within the year. Simply say, 'You know, every case is so different.' And then accept their sympathy and move on with the conversation to something, ANYTHING else. If you are not capable of that basic piece of human decency then please,
Shut your damn mouth.