Day 16: Being Alone. “I tend to get up early sometimes and just walk around the house wondering what it is going to be like being alone.”
When I wrote that line I was thinking about the fact that I had never lived alone in my life. I went from living at home, getting married and moving into our, Susan and my, first apartment near campus. We were still in college.
It is still true today. I have never lived alone in my life. In 2000, though, it seemed like that was going to change.
I have come to understand that there is a difference between “living alone” and “being alone.” Being alone is an existential state-of-being. It is as if not even God is there. What am I? Why am I?
In those days as the news of Susan’s illness got worse and the prospect of her loss seemed imminent, I would feel that empty.
The fear of Being Alone as a state of stark fear and existential emptiness was initially translated to “I cannot imagine that I can do what I know I have to do.” Just facing that prospect was for me, at moments, a change in “being.”
The show has a happy ending – Susan and I are deep into our 51st year of marriage. And I have been reminded by some of the most respected professionals in the field that I cannot know what it is like to lose someone until it happens. My brush with that feeling leaves me in great awe and fear of such moments.
Stat of the Day: Some good news. A recent study found that among women younger than 50 initially diagnosed with metastatic disease, 5-year survival rates doubled from 18% to 36% in recent decades and is projected to increase.
Task of the Day: Take a man to lunch. If you know a man whose wife has breast cancer take him to lunch. It is a lonely journey and most men are going to be reluctant to talk. The task is for both men and women. A man might be more likely to open up to a woman friend than a male, though at the end of the day just reach out and take a man with breast cancer in his family (wife or mother or sister etc.) to lunch.
Resource of the Day: It is very hard to deal with anticipatory grief. For some, getting ready is itself like a betrayal. Here is a resource with some suggestions on how to move ahead if you or someone you know is in this position.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.