I know it’s only Tuesday, but I feel fairly safe saying it’s this. The piece is about support groups for children whose parents have cancer. But the truths that Mary Elizabeth Williams extracts are profound. That culturally, we fear death, when really there’s power in acknowledging it. That for all of us, but especially for children, in situations that are socially cast as tragic or abnormal, there is power in a community of your peers — even if the very fact of that community means there will be pain and loss. That as MEW writes, in a way that universalizes the lessons she and her girls have learned:
My girls have learned in this past year that we can talk or not talk and we can cry sometimes and rage and dance and laugh, and it’s all OK. And they’ve discovered, in the most difficult and helpless of situations, that they have a measure of power — the power to be there for somebody else.
I didn’t put this family in the path of death. I put us in the paths of Lisa and Ted and Mamie and Julia. And we made a choice to get tangled up with them, to love them and to let them love us. To sit in beanbag chairs and eat popcorn and paint pictures together and drag ourselves to Queens for funerals and miss them when they’re gone. To take the risk of being hurt, because what the hell else are we here for? What else is there in life but to show up for each other, week in and week out, whether we’re 8 or 80? I came to that club because I knew my kids needed to get support. And they have received it, beyond all expectations. But I never dreamed how much they would also wind up giving. I never imagined how much sorrow they and their friends would face, or how beautifully they would face it together.
Aaaaand yes I am sitting home alone on a Tuesday night bawling on my couch. WHAT.