Sunday, May 18, 2008

Justification and Reconciliation

I bet you wonder, as I used to, about what happens to those relationships that were damaged before your cancer diagnosis. Do people who were mad at you suddenly go, "Oh, hey! So sorry you have cancer! Let's just forget that other thing we were pissed off about. It doesn't matter anymore."

No, they don't.

I attended an event recently where I came into contact with folks who had reason to be irritated with some of my past actions. And vice versa, I might add! This was a joyous, social event with everyone all dressed up. A time for pleasantries. So there was no reason for us to remind each other of our past wounds or differences. It was a time for, "Hello, how have you been?" But neither pleasantries nor accusations came my way, nor even an acknowledgment that I am ill and how awful that a mother of an elementary school-aged child has Stage III breast cancer, and how is that child doing? These people are still mad, even though supposedly their situation is fine and dandy without me. No, no, it's better without me, dammit.

I suppose what this really means is, when the veil is torn off a situation or person, it is gone for good. Cancer or no cancer. I wanted to be reconciled to these people for just this one day, not necessarily forever. Instead, I was reminded that I had already been justified. Remember, justified means to set right. I was already set right, regardless of my illness. And that's a situation that seems to be permanent. I knew this already, deep down. I will try not to forget this again.


ms. p said...

Great post. Great topic to tackle. I'm sorry you weren't able to have a pleasant evening with these people...

I've often wondered how such a thing like cancer changes a person, changes the people around them. I suppose it just depends. I hope it can be this force for positive change in some way, some kind of everyone looking inward and getting more in touch with our humanity, etc etc.

And then I remember the world I live in. And hooray for reality, really.

Roseana Auten said...

Cancer doesn't change you or the people around you, in and of itself. As long as you are not horribly ill, it's fairly easy to ignore it. And it's most comfortable for others to ignore it. You have to decide to pay attention to it, you have to decide not to miss whatever is happening.