The kindness of friends

Since the news has got out there, I’ve had many messages and phone calls out of the blue. Many are from people I hardly see anymore but catch up online 3-4 times a year, and I’m getting a lot of offers of help and support of different types. Some are far away, in Asia and Europe and the US. It’s all very gratifying and does my heart good, but it feels strange also.

I feel a kind of responsibility to these people. Luckily, I’m pretty positive, and my demeanour largely unchanged because I feel as if I’ve got to give them hope. I play along, engaging in their tentative conversational forays, trying to make it easier for them. Quite a few have suggestions for me, and I tell them all I’m open to anything.

I’m not someone who naturally seeks help. It’s an unhealthy habit, but I like to stand on my own two feet and look after myself. Perhaps that’s something that will change through this. That wouldn’t be a bad thing – I’m too proud. So, when people offer their assistance – either practical, helping me shift house, or pitching in when I have chemo; or the moral support, putting it out there they if I feel the need ever, they’re a willing shoulder to cry on – I always thank them, and tell them I’ll be in touch. I’ve even had offers of financial support.

I will need help. At this point, I don’t know exactly the type of help I’ll need or when I’ll need it, and I tell them that. I know what’s to come in general terms, but I doubt it’s something you can ever really grasp until you go through it. When I need help, I’ll ask for it.

I have one very old friend who lives in Mullumbimby committed to coming down in 4-6 weeks. He’s married, has kids, but only works casually. His wife – a lovely woman – urged him to reach out, and so he reckons he can stay a few weeks and help me out through the worst of it. I forward to seeing him – we’ve had some epic conversations over the years, and I’m infinitely touched by the gesture. I’ve seen the best of people lately.

Nothing has changed with me except now I have a firm appointment with the surgeons at 9am on Thursday. Cheeseboy will come with me. It will be an interesting experience, but I have faith in what I’ve encountered of the medical system so far, and I know that I’ll be couched in the love of my friends throughout.

At the end of it all, I expect to come out of it a stronger man again and, hopefully, a better man, too.

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