A Sad Phone Call

I was sitting at my desk trying to find the motivation/inspiration to write when my cell phone rang. It was an old friend I hadn’t talked to in a while. Guilt set in instantly because the last time he called I was lying down and my phone was across the room. I was in too much pain to get up so I didn’t. Later I saw who called but I had to pick up my daughter from work so I put off returning the call.

Since being on all these medication and thanks to some weirdness with my thyroid, my short-term memory is awful. I kept forgetting to call back, for two weeks. I occasionally thought about it but was always too busy until it got to the point where it was completely forgotten, until the phone rang last night. This was bad because we only talk about once every six months or so. I felt awful!

When I answered I planned to tell my friend I was sorry and how he knows my memory is crap, etc, but I never got the chance. I said “hello” and he said “what are you doing”, I said “nothing much how about you” – which is how all our conversations begin. He said “I’m dying.”

I don’t know how long the silence from me lasted before I finally blurted out: “What are you talking about?” He calmly explained to me that he had a tumor and there were words like: ‘surgery’ and ‘chemo’ and phrases like: ‘moved into my lungs’ and ‘compromised immune system’. It felt like his words were bouncing around in my head and wouldn’t settle down enough for me to comprehend. Even now I don’t really know everything he said to me.

I was floored and hardly said anything at first. I eventually spouted out some standard crap, you know, the ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I hope they are wrong’ — junk people say when they don’t know what to say. Most of it I followed up with “I know it’s ridiculous for me to say that.”

I asked when he was having surgery and it turns out he’ll be in the hospital at the same time I go out of town for two weeks. I feel like the worst person ever. Right when he needs to be surrounded by friends I’ll be gone. When I get back I’ll going through the process of preparing for and having surgery myself and won’t be available much then either. It’s been so long since I’ve talked to him that he doesn’t know about any of that and I don’t know if I should tell him or not. He’ll worry but I want him to why I’ll be m.i.a. Lost time can never be found again. I’m completely at a loss about what to do.

I don’t know what I really wanted to say when I started typing this. Maybe I needed to get it off my chest. I do know that I wish I had answered the phone two weeks ago (when he got his diagnosis) or called back right away. I wish when we did finally talk that I had handled it better. By the end of the call I had him laughing, which is good because he sounded determined to stick with his out of character calm tone, but I feel like I should have done more. I guess all I can do now is be there for my friend as much as I can.

Pardon my long winded rambling.

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7 comments

  1. Hi Kristin,

    I understand how it can be hard to know what the right words are to say to your friend who’s battling cancer.

    My mother was diagnosed 5 months ago and words sometimes are not enough to express how we feel for the people we love, who’s struggling with the disease now.

    I know you feel awful not being there for him when you wanted to. Like what you said, just be there for him when you can – I know he’ll appreciate it.

    Hoping for the best for your friend.

    May your surgery go well, too.

    Luna

    Liked by 1 person

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