Some may be wondering about my absence from the world of blogging. It is not that there isn’t stuff going on in my life that I want to write about (trust me, there’s too much); it is just that when I put things into perspective sometimes (and get a tad melodramatic) I realize that what I write may be just self-involved and pointless. (Hey I did say melodramatic).
I write this because sometime in May I got an email from my music soul mate, my best buddy informing me that they had cancer. I didn’t know what to say or do and I didn’t know how to respond to him. Weird huh? I am known for prattling a mile a minute for being verbose, wordy and making pointless speeches that could go on and on and yet, in that moment after reading the email, I felt alone. I felt numb. Speechless.
“Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear”
How does one write a self-indulgent blog when someone close to you is going through something bigger than any pseudo-relationship/crisis/ customer service meltdown that you might be having. All of sudden life slaps you and you begin to see that you need to grow up! I still think I am not ready to be an adult. Yes, a 30(cough) year old man is scared to be an adult. I have always said to most people that in most areas of my life I am adult, except when it comes to my emotions. There I think I never progressed passed the age of 14.
Unlike other people in this world, I am not accustomed to sickness or losing people in my family and when I heard the word “cancer” (which is not a death sentence anymore); it shook me to my core. What do I write to someone to express how you feel about their situation when internally you are unable to process it? I walked away from my laptop many times and just surround myself in other stuff because , honestly to acknowledge it meant that it was actually happening.
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear, take the wheel and steer
It took me a week to write something down and even then it was feeble. It was short and all I remember writing more than once is: “Please Don’t Die”.
Thinking back on it, I realize it was a selfish request and still not supportive at all. In the midst of someone’s pain/ordeal, all I could think about was my loss of a friend. A friend that introduced me to so much music. A friend whose Cindy Lauper CD – Twelve Deadly Cyns and More.. I still count as mine even though it’s there because I never returned it to him… A friend who I could talk for hours on end on nonsense and 80s TV and not be ashamed. Hahahahaha. Yup… my first correspondence to him in his crisis was poor.
There were friends he told that had made regular calls to him but I didn’t know what to say when I called and I hung up the phone many times because of it.
I must admit that I am never socially prepared for bad news especially sickness and death. My way of dealing with it is to pretend that all is well and try to talk about other things while ignoring the elephant in the room. With him, I knew this wouldn’t work. So I remained silent once again. You have no idea how I felt like a child huddled in corner peeping out to see if the situation I did not like had changed.
It’s driven me before. And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
I was working on a Musical called Little Shop of Horrors at the time so I sort of claimed that as my distraction. However, it wasn’t. I was the voice of the plant (Audrey II) and not in many scenes at all so there was always time to think. Work was hectic but there was always time to think. Think! Think! Think! Time to think but not act. Avoid. Delay Delay Delay……
Yet I came up with no solution or no introduction to a conversation with him. He lived hundreds of miles away in another time zone so I kept on delaying the inevitable.
In May, an opportunity to do two songs at someone’s concert came up and all of sudden, I couldn’t find something to sing. I knew like over a hundred songs lyrics , and had a CD collections over 1200 albums, yet I could not think of a song.
Then it hit me that I should call him and talk to him about what to sing. Yes, this would be my intro….I wouldn’t feel awkward anymore.
I didn’t call. I couldn’t call. I trembled
Instead I chose to email him on Facebook as I had worked out in my mind that since he did not respond to my email, he must not have easy access to that account. (Yes Stefan, in the world where everyone can access everything on their phone, you picked this logic). Anyway I did it and asked for his help.
He gave me some great advice for song choices. I used the opportunity to thank him and then I went on to explain my difficulty in talking to him about it. He laughed and just said “Stefan don’t you think I know you by now?”
It made things easier from then but I still felt stupid for not calling. What the hell is wrong with me?
Anyway, he started documenting his journey and treatment with cancer on his blog and when I saw pictures of him, I felt better about myself but I still didn’t know what to write or say.
Where do people learn this skill of sympathy/empathy? I must’ve been asleep in that class or skipped that lecture to go to a movie or something.
I have witnessed other people comforting others on loss or sickness and something inside of me keeps rolling its imaginary eyes at some of the things people say. I always promise myself not to say the stupid things other people have said but I can come up with no suitable responses. I am not a hugger so what’s left for me?
Though I am not one to attend church religiously, God and I speak often. And trust me when I say our conversations are not about forgiveness for shouting his name in vain; these conversations are moments of reflection, of thanks, of remembrance, of the scared little 30 (cough cough) year old boy afraid to deal with grown folks problems (and there are many).
I have to call at some point. I have to do it soon. I just lack the willpower and I’m scared of the tongue lashing I will receive for not doing it sooner. Yup I am a bad friend but I am mainly a scared one. I don’t think I am bringing across the crippling fear I feel in having a conversation with him. It burdens me.
Yes yes.. I can hear all of saying.. “Just do it already!!!” But you have no idea how it feels. This is not as easy as breaking up with someone or dismissing an employee. Nope. This is a test of Manhood, of Maturity. of Friendship. of Bravery. Guess this is a tutorial I will have to repeat. This is reaching out to someone and feeling helpless that you are too far away to help them in anyway or that you can’t help them at all. That hurts. I can’t have the conversation.
I don’t have any brilliant words to express or songs to sing or…….nothing. Just this helpless feeling that if I speak, what I say will sound like empty words they have heard a million times. What makes mine different? What makes mine sound genuine when I can barely believe them myself? They sound hollow and false and clichéd. A good friend is not deserving of those words.
What to say?
All I ask is for forgiveness upfront especially to someone who has listened to me bitch cross continent as well as on the streets ofGeneva,Port of Spain,Bridgetown, Holetown,LondonandBath….
But lately I am beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
This story is still incomplete.
I have to fix it.
Whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be there with open arms and open eyes