Photo by Laura Abril
It was a shitty, shitty day; the day I found out my mum had cancer. It was an overcast, shitty day. By the time I’d come home from school, there were flowers all over the house, and sombre looking friends in the doorway. I was sitting in the living room when mum sat down and told me. I barely left the living room floor for three days. After the second time, when the bastard of a disease came back, we pretty much got used to the pain. It never seems to leave, and yet I let it hang around me, like a cold or a clingy friend.
Cancer is hell. It’s the epitome of emotional and physical pain, realised in a whole family. Watching my mum lose her hair, vomit until she was delirious, and go to hospital writhing in agony, I learnt how to barricade my feelings until I was virtually emotionless. I’d run out of tears to cry, and I’d become tired of other people’s sympathy. It’s completely impossible for others to know how you feel, because everyone handles it differently. I don’t seem to feel it anymore. It’s as though we’re trying to ignore it, but occasionally we all sneak a glance, and acknowledge that it’s still there.
One night, when we were out getting drunk, my best friend told me that her dad had leukaemia. We stood in a corner and cried briefly, then proceeded to drink long island iced teas. It was the second worst day of my life, because it hurt me to know that she was hurting too.
My best friend’s dad died on Friday. And it makes me so incessantly angry. My best friend and her family are such beautiful, selfless people, and they don’t deserve it. I cried my eyes out when she told me, because it killed me to know she was hurting. But she was hurting a whole lot more than I ever have. I’ve seen my mum face death, teetering on the edge, the grim reaper lurking in the shadows. But she beat it. My best friend’s dad didn’t. It’s the hardest thing on earth to see her being dealt this disgusting card.
Both my mum and my best friend say the same thing. They say God throws the toughest challenges to the strongest people. I only hope I’ll be as strong as them. Watching my mum feeling like shit, day in day out, is gut wrenching and heart breaking and painful as fuck. And I know I’m not the only one to face it. My best friend has seen the reality of death. How she deals with it is beyond me, but I guess you learn to hold it together. Having another person that doesn’t ask ‘how are you?’ and doesn’t need you to try and explain is the most comforting thing you can have in a friend.
My best friend has suffered pure, relentless tragedy, and seeing her fight it with a hint of optimism makes me feel like maybe I can fight it too. No one person will ever experience a parent dying the same way as the next, and when they’re faced with leaving well before their time, it tends to make it harder. But when the long, gangly fingers of cancer wrap around you, you’ve got nothing else to do but try.
Written by Hannah Edensor.
If you have a story that you'd like to share, please submit it here.