I recently found out someone close to me has a terminal illness. I’m not really sure if I can say “close to me” because this someone is my therapist. You’re probably laughing right now – this person is paid hourly to listen to my shit.
Honestly, I would pay the same amount to have a beer with him. He’s just that stellar of a human being.
When I heard the news, I could not bounce back easily, the way I pride myself in all other things. It happened while I was at work and I stared blankly at my screen for I don’t know how long, feeling the waters well up in me.
I not only pride myself as someone who gets over things easily, but I also secretly pride myself as someone who doesn’t get emotional and estrogenic (this is a made-up word I read in an interview with Pharrell Williams. It’s real now). I was powerless against the waves of sadness. I recounted the tears and laughter, mostly laughter. I recalled the shittiness of shitty times and the utter triumph of overcoming them. I remembered the breaking down and the building up, the agony of working through the brokenness and the celebration of becoming a better human being because of it.
He was there when I went to Barcelona, and then Korea, a year later. He helped me process what I learned, gained, and became through those experiences. He was there when I got the internship with the firm I’m working at now, when I graduated, when I started full-time at the firm.
Two days later after hearing the news, I sat in my hotel room, opened my journal to a fresh page, and began to write to him. Before I could finish the first page, I was bawling. Tears blurred the lines and at one point I depended on motor memory to write – I could not see what and where I was writing.
With each new paragraph came a fresh flow of emotions. I don’t care what anyone says, and I don’t care how lame I sound right now, but I considered my therapist more a friend than anything. I was just as real and raw to him as I am with my friends. In fact, I was probably even more me because I wasn’t filtering out things that might be hurtful or too much. Yeah, it’s his job to take that shit but there are certain things he mentioned throughout our three-ish years that made me think he appreciated our friendship/relationship as well, that he also would enjoy having a pint with me. Maybe I’m disillusioned and he’s just really good at his job, in which case, I’m glad I’ve been working with a pro.
But all this sadness and tears and stuff aside – I couldn’t help but be grateful, more than anything. I’m lucky to even know someone worth crying over, someone whose sickness and proximity to the everlasting evokes a deep deep sense of loss. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt sorrow, the last time I cried like this and I can’t say that I regret it or wish I didn’t experience it.
Truthfully – maybe this sounds morbid in the face of what my therapist is going through – I feel more alive and more human. I feel such peace knowing I can feel such things and it’s okay. That grieving is natural, normal, expected. That it’s a part of the human experience and there’s a certain sense of release and freedom in facing and embracing not only the source of sadness but the process itself.
I’m glad to be alive and human, and I’m glad I know my therapist, that he came into my life when he did. I’m nothing but thankful to the universe, to God, to whomever that I gained so much from this one person and I hope I brought some sort of goodness to his.
I set up an appointment at the only available (and crappiest) time slot to see him tomorrow. I will probably become a mess, all over again.
On a lighter note, Happy Friday.