This Is Not a Problems Contest
“My car needs new brakes and the kids’ games have me going in three different directions. I can’t find my keys and at least one person has been sick in my house since Christmas. But I shouldn’t complain to you. None of this matters compared to what you’re going through.”
I hear some version of
this all the time.
Please don’t not tell me about your problems because I have cancer. This isn’t a problems contest.
We all carry a suitcase full of issues, worries, passions, and joys through our lives. It doesn’t matter how bad your worst thing is; it’s still your worst thing and it deserves attention, nurturing, and support. If you're reading this, then chances are that I love you and I want to know about what’s important in your life. Also, if it’s bad enough, it might take my mind off of the nausea for a second, so spill it, friend.
Maybe I can even help you. Helping people unpack their suitcases makes me feel like I’m still relevant. Otherwise, I mostly just feel like I'm on hold while I battle the tumors. Since it’s likely that I’ll be in this war forever, there's no choice between fighting and living; I need to do both at once.
Need an ear? I still have two. Vent away.
Same with my shoulders. You can cry on them if you need to.
Need a ride somewhere? Unless it’s the first couple of days after chemo, driving is easy. And I’ve got time on my hands. Trust me. Even if you don’t have time to go with me, I might be able to run a few errands for you.
Does your kid need a ride home from practice with my kid? Please don’t hesitate to ask. I may be volunteering my parents rather than myself, but they’re okay with that.
Are you celebrating something? Are you worried that being happy around me isn’t fair? Don’t. I welcome your joy. I would like to soak up as much as I can, if you don’t mind.
So, go right ahead and "burden me." Even if I can't help to carry your suitcase, you can maybe leave it here beside me for a while so you can take a break. I'm just sitting here anyway.
Leave your suitcase with me for a bit.