It’s never good to be told bad news… there’s never a good time. I remember when my mother called to tell me my aunt had breast cancer. It was my first month on the job at my second label and I was close to no one and worked in a cubicle. But I found the person that in my limited time I liked the best, went into her office, and said that I had just found out my aunt had cancer and could I just hide in there for a few minutes. Of course she said yes. Then I started to sob.
When my mother called me to tell me she had breast cancer, I was sitting in my new office at my third and last label, full of cocky confidence, and told her a long story about a bad date before proceeding to weigh the pros and cons of saying yes to a second date. After all that, I finally asked, “oh yes, what were you calling about?” I’ll go to my grave wishing I had just asked that question first. You can say it doesn’t matter but somehow it still does and always will.
When my father called me today to tell me that the third of the three sisters has breast cancer, he had to leave a bland “call me back” message because I was busy helping teach a 4th grade technology class. I have no office there and I went outside to call him back afterwards. There, in front of a giant picture window of high school students sitting around a library table, I stood on a lovely downtown side street, hearing the news and forced to not show any emotion at all. Then I had to get on the train to go man a table and greet people at a technology fair for three hours. You can be sure that even if this blog goes into the ether with its written record of events, I will always remember that moment and this day and what it felt like.
Sometimes when I see a particular look in a face on the subway, I wonder if that person was told bad news and has nowhere to go to cry. Then it all bunches in their face and it’s just as naked but without the release. But it was the wrong time and the wrong place and even if it wasn’t, it will always feel as if it were.
Title is from Psalm 130, traditionally said by Jews in times of distress to ask for God’s help.