It’s easy, when your heart isn’t on the line, to wax loftily poetic.
And then it is:
My sister has just been diagnosed with a late stage lung cancer. Possibilities are not exhausted, but they’re not limitless either. The journey to possibility is horrifying and ugly. Deb’s accepting and frightened. I’m so frightened too. And I can’t make it better or share the pain. I can only bear witness.
My sister! My sister!
I always say the miracle is that it works at all. It isn’t unusual for things to go awry. Life is messy. And not forever promised.
“I always” doesn’t mean jack when it’s your sister. It doesn’t mean much either when well-meaning friends tell me I’ll have to man up for Deb because she’ll need me. Well, of course. My forte. Evanses are strong, competent and brave. But excuse me? My heart? Breaking here. So much loss. And now… uncertainty… that edges toward some unwelcome certainties.
I make the only promises I can. I will be present. I will be her advocate. I will revel in her company, however heartbreaking and messy. I will keep my hands and heart open. And I will love her fiercely.
And you? I will love you too, working hard not to let this pain blind me to you and your struggles and your triumphs.
But I tell you the truth. I will need a kind word and a steadying hand on my back.