I reconnected with a friend. P. We'd been friends in high school, ran into each other a few times after high school. When I was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, she was stationed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (where Dylan was ultimately born). We got together a few times. The last time that I saw her, she and her husband had just adopted their third child from China, their fourth child under 6. I ran into P's stepmother at the Cancer Support Group. Newly widowed, and not married to P's father for all that long (P's mother died of cancer), none the less, immediately upon finding out that P and I were friends who'd lost touch, she gave me P's contact information, telling me, "She needs support right now." Her love for a grown woman she'd had little contact with was evident and touching.
I called and left a message, and P. called me back. The marriage was over. Has been over for more than a year. Unbelievably, this strong woman, a capable officer in the United States Army, a bright woman with two degree had became an abused woman. "How did I ever let this happen?" she asked, and her shame and her anguish was evident. Her 14 year old son was the one who said to her, finally, "You must do something about this." A little child shall lead them, and he did. The scales fell from my friend P's eyes, and she saw what she needed to do. The strong woman emerged again, and she did what she needed to do. The capable woman emerged again, as she took charge of the raising of her four children. The bright woman has emerged again, as she learns to manage on a shoestring, juggle everyone's schedules, and some how, amazingly, make it work. She is tired, but making it. I wish that I lived closer.
She stops in the middle of what she's saying, remembering that I met her stepmother at a Cancer Support Group. "Debby," she asks. "Do you have cancer?" "Did. Do? Don't know." Immediately, she said, "Oh, how trivial my problems sound," and she was ashamed of herself for talking on about things.
This is what I know for a fact. I've had cancer. I've also been singlehandedly responsible for three children. You know what? I don't really think that one's easier than the other. There's not much help for the emotional aches. When my shoulder kicks up, I've got drugs, if I want 'em. I kind of think that she's got the bigger challenge, and I make up my mind not to lose touch with her again.