These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it
“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs
I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?
I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos. We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.
One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.
One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.
This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.
I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.
Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.