Published by pam on Fri, 03/02/2012 - 7:53pm


How odd it is to have a secret.  Marc and I come together with a group of friends as we have so many times before.  But this time it is different.  We listen and talk and ask questions as we have before, but this time there is a lot we do not say.  We recognize this time as a swell before the storm.  We ride the wave.  Conversations come easily, but they seem trivial.  Questions come naturally, but we do not share.   We proceed as if looking down on ourselves and others from a different place.  We are not connected or invested.  


Occasionally, from across the room, Marc and I catch each other's eye.  We exchange the kind of looks we did when we were a young and a newly hatched  couple.  Back then we had a different kind of secret.  Around us, a magical future was unfolding, one we didn't want to share because it was too amazing.  Letting others in might dilute its power.  


The dinner is hosted by a close friend.  An anesthesiologist.  I know how important it will be for her to hear the news from me.  Hearing it elsewhere will make her feel as if she's failed me in some way, as if her unbelievably busy life has once again prevented her from being the kind of person she wants to be.  I resolve to tell her before we leave.  I have so many questions about the surgery, stupid questions.  The kind of questions my surgeon doesn't necessarily have time for.  But my friend, she's watched dozens of these procedures.  Maybe hundreds.  I know she'll be able to help in a way no one else can.  She knows what the process look like.  She's imagined herself on that table more times than I'd like to count.  She's thought about this in a way I haven't.


Before leaving I tuck her outside and explain the situation.  She is kind and a wealth of information as I knew she would be.  She immediately apologizes for not being a better friend (which is not the case). She tells me about a colleague who is not only a breast oncologist but has just gone through treatment herself.  The conversation is empowering.  I am glad I told her first.   It is the beginning of a network of people I will need to guide me through this.  


But here is what I don't anticipate:  Marc is furious.  


We haven't told the kids.  What if she slips? What if one of her kids tells our kids?  It's only Friday.  We aren't telling them until after this weekend's gymnastics competition.  We agreed.  How could I betray him like that?


I'm dumbfounded.  Of course I made it clear that she wasn't supposed to tell anyone.  I completely trusted her not to violate my confidence.  I couldn't imagine her 'slipping'.  I explained why I told her, why I needed to tell her, but it doesn't change anything.  It was a betrayal.  


I thought it was my cancer.  But isn't.  It's our cancer.   It's our secret.  This is the closest we've been in years.  Because of the cancer.  Because we've been reminded of how much we need each other.  By letting someone in on our secret, I've snipped away at the netting holding us together.


Marc tells me I'm wrong.  It isn't like that at all.  We had an agreement (we did?) and I disregarded that.    How could I have been so insensitive?


I was, is suppose.  But only because I misunderstood the tendrils the disease has grown and how they are connecting us.