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May her memory be a blessing

This morning I learned that a young woman I went to college with died of cancer over the weekend.

She wasn’t someone with whom I was close, nor really even knew. I lived in a party house, so got to meet most everyone. My one distinct memory of her is from a particularly ruckus party where she took the time to ensure that the party was a safe space for all.

Learning of her death was shocking — especially amidst news of the recent terrorist attacks in London — learning that she’d been living with cancer for over a year was even more shocking for some reason.

The media — be it news, entertainment, or both — is filled with stories of battle.” Us and them. The victim and the attacker. The good and the bad. Black and white. Evil and not so.

Everyday stories are harder to tell. Those stories without good and bad, just drudgery, and a bit of fear. Those are harder to tell. So death sneaks up on us. Cancer isn’t something that seems particularly socially permissible to speak of. Sure, hopes and prayers, fun-runs, and races for the cure, but no conversations. No stories. So death sneaks up on us.

I’m not heaps sure where I’m headed with this thought. I think it boils down to this: I wonder if we as a culture” (whatever that means) have lost a tool for dealing with grief because we’ve lost the space to tell stories about death from sickness, and when we do try to talk about it, it is framed as pitched battle. Sometimes there isn’t space for Hollywood CGI explosions. Some trials aren’t by fire, but are by slow walk. Persistence, and a bit of chance even.

May her memory be a blessing.

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