Holding Back the Tears

Yesterday, Jan. 28, was Barbra Watson-Riley’s birthday. Barbra would have been 46. Would have been, because we lost her last November to cancer. Yesterday, there were a lot of memories, pictures and thoughts posted about Barbra on various social media platforms. Looking at them, recalling fun times and viewing the pictures of Barbra with her husband and daughter, made yesterday an emotional day.

I had planned for that emotion to occur. We all knew that it would be tough. Everyone checked on one another, we created hashtags for people to follow throughout the day. There was even an amazing beautiful post from Barbra’s husband on the inkwellchicks.wordpress.com blog. So in a way, I was prepared for some tears to fall.

I was not prepared for what took place later that day. At an outing with friends, I learned that another friend, and mentor, had recently learned that she had been diagnosed with an “unusual” form of breast cancer. (I am not using her name as she is in the process of letting people know.) She will have a double mastectomy next month. It happened that fast.

When she told us, I originally put my head down to hide my face. I could feel the tears beginning to form. But as she spoke, she was very matter of fact, telling us how she found the lump through her annual mammogram, what her doctors had said and her course of action.

I will not lie, my first thought was … “Not again, this is not happening to another friend!” But then I thought about Barbra as I looked at the pink and green bracelet that I was wearing. I received the bracelet at Barbra’s celebration of life ceremony. I thought of her and the strength, courage and will to fight that she displayed every day.

Then I sat up.

I sat up, swallowed hard, took a deep breath and willed my tears back. I listened intently and told myself that this is the time for strength, the time for encouragement, the time for support and the time for hope. This WAS NOT the time for tears.

It was the time to be a friend.

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