When my dad went to his latest class reunion, it really bothered him how many people were starting to die. At all previous reunions, the people who had passed away were flukes: rare diseases, car accidents or suicides. They weren’t statistically the norm. Now, the deaths fall into what insurance agents call actuarial tables. The old Bell Curve of life and death eventually starts to fit like a glove. And no one really finds it comfortable.
This weekend, my friend’s little sister sent a message to the old gang from high school and college. Our friend is sick. She has breast cancer. I just kept reading it over and over. How is this possible? We’re young. Women much older than us get breast cancer. This shouldn’t be what’s happening to someone with whom I went to cheerleading camp. We sat at the lunch table together. We lived in on the same floor in my first dorm, the first time we all pretended we were independent from our parents.
I could feel that actuarial table start to chafe. This is exactly how old we are. And this does happen to people who took Advanced Math and Physics with me. Because this (or something like it) can happen to anyone. And it doesn’t matter how carefully I keep planning and managing and crafting, people are going to keep getting sick around me. And I cannot make it stop. Nothing can.
But it’s nice that there’s a group of us who have been friends for 20 years. Because then there’s a text exchange that goes like this (and despite the money our parents shelled out for a Christian education, all of us drink and swear like sailors):
Me: Can I just say, Fuck this shit?!? L has cancer?!?!
P: Yes, you may…that is unbelievably fucked up.
Me: Also, I put my pencil down bc I couldn’t find the sharpener. Now I have the sharpener, and can’t find the pencil. So Fuck this fucking shit. …. That could be a little displaced anger there.
P: Yeah, it’s “Fuck this shit” o’clock, and I think it’s time to just start drinking. … and just a bit. Are you still hurting?
Me: Yes. And if I take enough pain meds not to hurt, I’m worthless. But if I don’t, I cuss people out over lost pencils. … Except I think I’m not allowed to complain about my absurd digestive issues when L has cancer. … But I still can’t find my pencil.
P: Well, you still had surgery, so it’s a big deal, but yeah… my mind is blown right now. Just unreal. … You’re still looking for the pencil!?!? I thought I told you to start drinking.
Me: I can’t drink. Hydrocodone. My husband gets nervous when I drink on pain meds. Starts talking about the Betty.
P: Oh, you aren’t supposed to drink when you take hydrocodone???
Me: Found my pencil!!!
P: Shit got really weird, really quickly today.
I do not enjoy being a grown up. I would like to decline my membership in the Responsible Adults club. If someone will just tell me where to mail my card, I’ll get right on that. Because this sucks. And there is not enough ice cream for breakfast to make it right.