TW: This post contains mentions of cancer, death, and COVID-19.
This is a bit of a long story in four-ish parts, but here it goes.
It started about a year and a half ago in my freshman year of college. Thanksgiving break of that year, I met up with one of my coaches. She had started me on the sport when I was 6, so I’d known her for about 12 years at that point. On the day before I left to go back to school, she told me that she had stage 4 cancer and was likely going to die within 6 months. We weren’t particularly close, but she was still a constant part of my childhood.
I had a teacher in high school that I was close to, and she helped me out with some of the things I went through. She kept in touch with people that graduated before me, so I thought it would be okay if I did the same. Before I graduated, I also asked if she wanted to keep in touch, and she said that she did. I sent her a few texts over summer and fall semester, but they mostly went unanswered. I was sad about having been ghosted, and maybe a little bitter, but I was able to get over it. I came back home over winter break and met up with some friends who also knew her. Apparently she had been diagnosed with an early form of breast cancer. She’d posted about it on social media, but since I didn’t have any at the time, I completely missed the message. I felt incredibly guilty for being upset about her lack of support when I should have been the one supporting her. She’s doing well now, but it was still stressful. We haven’t talked much since.
When I came home for summer break last year, an awkward conversation revealed that my dad forgot to tell me that his mom had cancer. She died a few months latter.
A few days ago, I found out that one of my friends had COVID back in spring. I know she’s got some existing health stuff, so it could have been very bad. Luckily she’s getting better, but I’m still worried about her.
Other things that also happened in the past two years: A student at college that I was sort of friends with also had cancer. My mom was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and they didn’t tell me formally. It just sort of came up in a conversation, and now I know.
I 100% respect the need for privacy, especially when it comes to serious health issues. I am a very private person myself, and I probably would have done the same thing. Boundaries are incredibly important, and I completely understand why they made the decisions that they did. I recognize that I'm not in the "inner circle" of any of these people, but I still care about them very much, and I often look up to them. I just hate being blindsided by stuff like that. It’s the same feeling as being the only one not invited to a party but a thousand times worse. Every time this happens, it feels like the floor has disappeared below me, and I’m in a free fall. It’s the worst kind of déjà vu.
I would have done anything I could have for the people listed above because I care about them, but I never got the chance. I keep thinking about how all of these people, not just my grandmother, could have died, and I wouldn’t have even known until after. There would have been no warning. They would just be gone. I know it’s horrible that I’m making this about me, but I don’t really know what to do or why this keeps happening. Is this just what adult life is like? Any thoughts?