October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Actual Dance tells a story of MY journey in response to Susan’s diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer in 2000
In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I post a blog each day with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections all stem from something in the play.
Day 26 Being Alone. “It is early on the Sunday morning after we found the lump on Susan’s chest. I tend to get up early sometimes and just walk around the house wondering what is going to be like being alone. I’ve never lived alone in my life, have I told you that yet? I want from living at home until I almost through college to getting married and living with Susan.” The Actual Dance
I have learned that there is a difference between “living alone” and “being alone.”
I have “lived” alone in the sense of being away from Susan for travel. In the past 50 years we have been married I guess the longest time we have been apart is about a week at a time, maybe. And now with Facetime and Skype -- do you even count that as being away?
Yet I have come to understand that there is a difference between living alone and “being alone.” It may or may not be simply the difference between life and death of your partner.
What I do understand, as best as I can since I have not in fact lost Susan, is that there is an existential “aloneness” that is different in quality from anything else. In speaking with many people who have lost their life partners – that is people who have actually danced “The Actual Dance” – there is a place in the soul that can be like a vacuum – so empty that it is a form of aloneness that defines one’s “being.”
In the play I say it differently – “being alone” – than I say “living alone” because I know somehow the deep difference. And it scared me then and scares me even now. It is that deep, irrevocable emptiness of loss and the stark fear of having to go to that place that cried out in my head and demanded that I “talk with someone” about what was happening to me.
Stat of the Day: About 14% of men over 65 are widowers, while about 45% of women are. As of 1999, about 100,000 men become widowers each year. Source
Task of the Day: Reach out to a widower or widow in your community. Take him or her to lunch, send an email, recommend a book. Most importantly be available to listen.
Resource of the Day: The American Cancer Society has a Cancer Survivor Network that also includes resources for those who lose a loved one to cancer. Check it out here.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.