Six years ago today, they told him he was going to die. I mean, maybe not in so many words, but the implication was there. 18% survival rate for this type of cancer, they said. Stage 4. The worst kind of shit. You’ll be lucky if you get a solid year.
I honestly can’t remember if I found out THAT day, but it was soon enough after. And I was in shock. Like, seriously? No. No way. I was in shock. Disbelief. I waved it off. Nope. Not real.
The same day, I went to the mall. The news and the trip were unrelated; I think I’d been planning on going that day anyway? Whatever. I found myself in one of those shoe stores that sell $6,000 Nikes and Adidas in every color of the neon goddamned rainbow. I bought some sandals. I brought them to the counter. The guy rang me up, then motioned to a display to my right.
“Do you want to buy a Livestrong bracelet for a dollar?”
And I froze. And I stopped breathing. And my heart pounded in my chest. And I couldn’t speak. I nodded. I motioned back at the bracelets. He threw one in my bag. And I walked out of the store, completely and totally dazed. Because THAT is when it sank in. THAT is when I realized that things would never, ever, ever be the same.
I wore that bracelet every fucking day. Every day. I felt naked without it. It became my Thing. I was teased. I was admired. I was convinced that if I were to take it off, something Terrible would happen. After all, I am superstitious (sometimes) to a fault. Borderline diagnosable in these sorts of situations, really.
The day that it broke – I literally wore it until it just snapped into two pieces – I cried. Because it meant something Terrible was going to happen. I immediately bought another. Hell, I ordered a ton more so I could pass them around. And always have a backup, of course.
But instead of something Terrible, something as magical as my convoluted thinking happened: he got better. Remission. No more cancer. He kicked its fucking ass, y’all. Did it like it was fucking nothing. 18%? Whatever, chumps.
I continued to wear the bracelet for at least a few years after. I slowly wore it less and less, as I saw just how well he was doing and my anxiety gradually faded. I don’t wear it at all anymore, really. And while there was a time when I would have almost felt ashamed to say that, I know now that it doesn’t matter. None of it matters.
Because I got to keep my fucking friend around awhile longer.
I love ya, B. Continue to live strong, you bad ass motherfucker.