To the Point with Michael Hogan

To the Point with Michael Hogan

Michael Hogan

In every life there are moments when the whole world is soaked with sorrow, dripping with the bitter dew of despair. There are times when sadness falls from the skies and, like acid rain, burns holes deep in the heart. Somewhere in the midst of all these petty things that dominate our lives finality brings the walls crashing down upon us. In these critical moments the last thing we want is to find ourselves alone. We reach our hand out in desperation and pray there is someone to grab hold, someone to pull us from the rubble of our lives. We pray that we are not the only ones struggling in the wreckage.

I’ve just had one of those moments. This morning my father, a man who single-handedly held my entire family together through troubled times, was diagnosed with lung cancer. He smoked heavily for over forty years, so it was something that was always sort of expected. But, as it always is, the news was still a shock to the system. But, this is not about my father and it is not about cancer. There will be plenty of time to write about those things later. This is about that moment, that instant when things collapsed in on me and about the hand that held me above the rising waters of desolation.

It is a moment that it is impossible to prepare yourself for. No matter what you do it is always more than you were ready for. You may tell yourself that you know the feelings that will flood your veins. You can tell yourself that you will stay strong. In that moment, however, it makes no difference what you have told yourself. When it hits all of those personal promises you have made mean absolutely nothing.

The world slows. A sudden chill runs through you. Nothing holds any significance anymore. Everything, the sun in the sky, the water that stretches to the smoky skyline, the buildings that jut up from the horizon, feel fake, like the painted plywood set of some grade school play. You see everything through a haze, an undulating veil of tears. It seems as if everything were reflected in a funhouse mirror or through a wall of gas rising through the air. That word, cancer, ricochets off the sides of your skull like a lonely voice off a sheer cliff.

As you desperately stretch your hand out of the ruins, it is grasped. From somewhere beyond all of the hopelessness, comes a friend. Suddenly someone is holding you, someone is pulling you back to reality. There is a shoulder on which to dry your tears, an understanding heart into which to pour your soul. Even though you want to run from it all, to flee to where nothing exists, especially not cancer, you can’t. You are anchored to the truth by a connection so strong that it holds fast despite the raging winds of fear that encompass you. As a cyclone of emotion begins to swirl, tearing at your heart as it spins wildly, there is this protection from it all. There is a feeling of love hovering over you that keeps everything safe and calm, and you are more grateful for it than you have been for anything else in your life. All that exists in that moment is you, the mounting pain, and that warm hand that refuses to let you drift away.

You could have all the support in the world, more understanding friends than anyone anywhere but there is still that seed of doubt that the support you need will not be there in that moment when you need it most. There is always a part of yourself that fears being left alone at those critical times. Lucky for me, I am not alone. I have that comforting hand the anchor that keeps me safely in the harbor and not floating aimlessly through the oceans of grief. I have a person who I know, despite whatever ups and downs there may be, is there to hold me up.

I’ve thought about it all day. You know, how to thank her for being there. But, it seems that there is no sufficient way. Without her I don’t know where I might be. I would probably be lost, angry and alone in some distant corner of myself. I am still lost and still angry, but I am not alone. I have a friend who is there for me.

I guess the only way to thank her is with these words, and by continuing to reciprocate the friendship as best as I possibly can. But, even that seems as if it is not enough. There may never be enough. So, for now I will do all there is I can do, and simply say thank you.