“I can’t be angry.”

Well I sure can. That is what I responded in my head when she told me it was cancer. I remember that evening eight years ago as if it were a moment a go. I pulled up to her house; she got in the car and told me what the doctor said. She had a book in her hand that the cancer doctor had given her. She wanted me to read it, to look at it, to see the advice and the steps.

I sat there with it open in front of me, my heart raging, and tears blurring my vision and falling to splatter on the crisp pages. I struggled so deeply not to cry, to not be angry, to not react or feel like me, but like a machine that could be stronger for my best friend.

I blew it. In that moment right there, I blew it.

“I’m angry!” I blubbered. “I am so damn angry and how the hell can you not be angry?” I hated that I was weeping. I hated that I was shaking and afraid when I knew she was so terrified and feeling the need to be strong for me.

In my head I can hear the radio playing softly in the background, the sounds of my own sniffling and her trying to comfort me. I am not sure right then if she truly realized what little time she had. You see, I had done the research. I knew the statistics and the prognosis. The part I couldn’t factor in was the not knowing what God would do. It was the God factor that helped her not to be angry. It didn’t help me.

While she was dying, I allowed my anger at the whole horrid situation fuel me into making great moments. I wanted to make sure that she still laughed, that we still had fun, that we could still find some sort of normal. I know it sounds a bit crazy and it’s probably not considered therapeutic, but that’s what I did with all of that emotion.

Sometimes I even got angry at her as if she could somehow have controlled if she was going to die or not. I even got angry that in the midst of her dying; she could still fix my screens, and give me directions, and listen to me cry and moan about my own life. It made me thankful and angry at the same time that it was somehow normal to go on as if this giant elephant crushing the life out of her wasn’t happening.

I would get angry at God for not saving her, for not letting it be someone else, for me ever having her in my life in the first place to just wind up losing her. I was angry that I cried in front of her and that I told her how frightened I was. I was angry that I couldn’t save her. I was angry that I was human and just a mere mortal.

That was eight years ago. She has been gone seven years. Guess what? I still get angry when I think about it. I get angry at myself for being me so long ago and being overcome at the thought of losing her. I get angry that love does not save a body but only a soul. I am angry that it can’t do both.

And it’s okay.

It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be angry that you are losing someone or that you have already lost someone. It’s okay if it still creeps up on you now and then—you just can’t let it consume you forever. You can’t let it surround you day and night without it destroying you and without it destroying the memory of those you lost.

I still hear her voice, “I can’t be angry.” And then my own voice, “I’m angry.”

It’s not the only thing I can hear her say. I hear her laugh; I hear her snorting so loud from laughing so hard. I hear her saying, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” And I hear me too. I hear me saying, “I already know. I love you too.”

Monika M. Basile