While you’ve been busy discovering my innermost secrets, I turned the tables and became a fly on someone else’s wall. His name is Randy and last night I spent hours reading his blog–which is the best one I’ve seen so far.
His blog is only one story on a website that draws a million people every month. Called CaringBridge.org—it’s used by people in a medical crisis such as illness, hospitalization, accident, premature birth. The patient or someone in the family writes the blog, and everyone who knows or cares about this person can read it to stay connected no matter where they are.
I can’t think of a better application for the amazing power of the internet. And I wish there had been something to connect me to people during my experience with cancer—when I felt DIS-connected, alone and isolated. I never heard of Caring Bridge until last night when someone told me Randy blogged about his cancer journey.
I met Randy at a party a year ago. He was tall, handsome—and bald, my first clue that we had cancer in common. Within minutes, a brief conversation standing at the food buffet switched gears from cheese puffs to chemo—with an immediate depth that sometimes can happen when you recognize a fellow traveler. It was clear Randy was an amazing guy even before his cancer diagnosis–well-informed, warm and witty. Now finished with a long grueling treatment, he and his wife were about to take their two kids out of school for 6 months to travel the world–one of the few benefits of cancer being that you learn to live in the moment.
That one conversation, inspiring and intimate though it was, was an instant in time—similar to countless others that blend into the fabric of life. I knew the family returned because I ran into Randy once, very briefly, at a high school baseball game a few months ago. But our paths didn’t cross again until last night– when I read his blog. Through his online journal I met his beautiful wife and his adored children. I got to know his favorite music, the friends all over the world who love and admire him, and mostly I got to know his character through the story of his battle against cancer—which cut short his life at age 46 a few days ago.
The heart of every cancer survivor sinks when one of us dies. That could be me. The fear buried just beneath the surface rises up to the top. That could be me.
I can’t stop thinking about Randy–and yet the fear is not what strikes me most. By now fear to me is like wearing high heels—it hurts but after awhile you get used to it. And it’s also not just that his death is unfair and tragic and he gave so much and fought so valiantly. For me, Randy struck another chord—not through his death but through what he wrote about his life.
Randy is in my heart today because I saw into his heart. I got to know him through his words, as a human being, as a man— as his children will someday be able to know the remarkable man who was their father. Through his words Randy helped me see what I didn’t see when I showed up in San Francisco for BlogHer 08, and what I didn’t get about what is going on all over the world: why are people blogging? Why are people reading? I still don’t know the answer for everyone else; but because of Randy, I now understand it for myself.