Today is the day that people play tricks on one another. Mostly in good fun. I have fond memories of April Fools jokes because my mother’s best friend from college used to live with us when I was a kid and she took this day very seriously. As a kid, green milk or corn flakes in the bed or Saran Wrap on the toilet was super funny and we didn’t have to clean up the mess.
As an adult, I know that the jokes people play can have a sharp edge to them. Pretend engagement posts can really hurt those people who are craving that one person to love them forever. Pretend pregnancy announcements can devastate those people who struggle with infertility for any reason. At one time, I probably would have thought both of those things were entertaining, but hopefully with age comes a bit of wisdom.
I started wondering/daydreaming this morning about what if the whole past two years was a mistake, a joke, and maybe I didn’t actually have terminal cancer. I was rewatching, randomly, an old Grey’s Anatomy episode where a doctor was purposefully misdiagnosing women with breast cancer and treating them with chemo for the money. Clearly that entered my subconscious.
It can be seductive, daydreaming about an alternative reality where the worst thing in the world didn’t happen and life had continued along the same trajectory we were on when those fateful words were spoken. I can’t say that I’ve been sucked down that path, my way of tuning out the noise of a terminal illness is to read science fiction and binge watch weird shows on Netflix or Hulu. Diving into someone else’s trauma or dream of an alternative universe can be weirdly satisfying.
It isn’t an elaborate April Fools joke.
I actually have a terminal diagnosis.
The median life expectancy for someone like me is 2-3 years.
It’s been 2 years and a part of my brain is always consumed with when the other shoe will drop and a result of a scan will plunge us back into the trauma of living intensely with cancer treatments and the uncertainty of my life expectancy. The rest of my brain is focused on what is happening with the boys and if they have shoes and when they need a haircut and obsessing over whether they are reading or pooping in the potty; in other words, the minutiae of life.
Living with two competing or alternative realities is often called ambiguity. I get that most of the world lives with ambiguity and I suppose I’ve had some experience with it, but let me be clear. I freaking hate ambiguity. It sucks. There is a very good reason most people who have or have had cancer struggle with their mental health. It’s heavy and it’s hard and no person is equipped to handle that alone.
So, this April Fools Day, take a moment to check on your friend. Your friend who desperately wants to be a wife, a husband, a mom, a dad, a grandparent, a healthy person, a whatever. Don’t pretend that your life is something else. Reach out and hug someone who might be struggling or someone who doesn’t appear to be struggling, or is the last person you think might be struggling.
The truth is, everyone has something that is hard. Everyone has something that is weighing on them. It might not be the weight of a terminal illness or a family member with a terminal illness or someone who had died, but we are all frail and all in need of simple human kindness, a touch, a hug, a emoji.
This is mine to you–whatever you are facing today, there is hope, there is help, there are friends, the sun came up today and you are loved.