When the Ground Falls

It has been said that over time couples begin to look like each other. Their attire begins to mesh into similar shades and patterns. Some couples wear the same shoes. Admittedly, this may only hold true for my parents.

In other cases, dogs look like their owners and sometimes both human and animal have similar personality traits. The Museum of Man, located at Balboa Park in San Diego, has an exhibit called Living with Animals. In this exhibit, there’s a game very similar to Old Maid where the player matches a dog to its owner. At first it seems fairly easy—dogs are said to look like their owners. Well, it’s not. Out of 10, I had only one correct.

In retrospect, those whom we call friends tend to be similar to us before we ever meet. Friends are people that we share similar interests with, otherwise why would we call them our friend? As similar interests merge, we may begin to look like our friends. Take for example Meghan Markle and her best friend Jessica Mulroney. Prior to Meghan Markle’s wedding, the two looked nearly identical. It is said that Jessica Mulroney, a “fashion power player”, influenced Meghan Markle’s style, which makes sense as to why the two look similar. All looks aside, friends may inherently already have similar interests but sometimes these interests are borrowed from our closest friends.

We often bring to great friendships new adventures. We bring compassion, we bring joy, and we bring humor or sorrow. Some friendships mold together through similar interests. Some friendships grow into newfound interests. Some friendships falter and fade because of difficult or different paths. Some friendships falter and grow as a result of these paths. In the face of great trials, friendships will be tested. As friends, we often share the burden of those we hold most dear. We put ourselves in our friend’s shoes and we try to sympathize.

It can be difficult to sympathize cancer.

During my middle school days, I struggled making friends. Determined to figure out how to improve this social skill, I purchased a how-to-make-friends manual—yes, I was that kind of socially awkward kid. The manual had the generic questions on how to be a civilized not-so-awkward human being when you’re not invited to the super hip 90’s party. Honestly, most of the content I remember has faded into the background with popular boy bands of my time. In the end though, there was nothing in the book that told me how to properly respond to a best friend diagnosed with cancer. There is no manual for cancer.

Even though couples begin to mesh with one another, or pet moms and dads with their dear little critters, or Duchesses with their best friends’ influence on fashion, cancer and fashion are on opposites sides of the spectrum.

And I had no idea how to proceed.

It can be easy to tell your best friend, It’s okay, it’s his loss for not calling back. Or, after a really bad day, Hey, lets get some ice cream and watch the L Word, because the both of you will feel better in the morning. Time mends all wounds, they say, but when it comes to cancer, time feels like a count down. A bomb waiting to go off and you can’t mend this with ice cream and TV shows.

But damn, ice cream still tastes good. Ice cream is simple. Ice cream can be a small bit of joy in your mouth to savor. Ice cream can’t prevent cancer, but it can stop a tear or two. Positive thinking can be powerful, no matter where you find it. No matter how small a bite of ice cream is, there is still joy in it.

I knew I couldn’t stop what was happening. I knew that some days would be more difficult than others. There was no manual and there was no sympathizing. I had to change the way I saw the world because I knew that the world was crashing down on my friend. I knew I needed to stay grounded and find joy in every aspect of life and express it. If something brought my friend joy, I ran with it. I researched as much as I could of what interested her and try it. Sometimes this wasn’t difficult because our interests were often the same. Other times I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone. From these experiences, I grew. From these experiences, my friend found ways to express her anger, her sorrow, and her joy.

Although, understandably, cancer deteriorates a body, break spirits, and changes people. It’s important to consider the joy in positive thinking.

Positive thinking can grow a mind and strengthen a soul.

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