I was running late. Not that it worried me, I practice being ‘fashionably late’ like it’s a religion. As a rule, I leave home five minutes before I’m supposed to be somewhere. In a small city, this usually means I’m 15-20 minutes late. Of course I don’t do this for appointments or classes. I am fashionably late for events were I am not going to know anybody. That is why I was late last night.
Rewind back to yesterday morning. I texted my brother to ask if he wanted a lift to our Canteen meet up event in the evening. We’d only been to one such event before and we’d been glued at the hip the entire night, (the glue in this case being a mix of shyness and general social awkwardness) so I was horrified when he responded that he had other plans.
I was that kid who always wanted my mum or dad to stay the whole time when I went to a friend’s birthday party. I wanted someone with me to wait for a doctor’s appointment. I will very rarely go to a café, or see a movie, or eat a meal out on my own. I don’t like being places by myself. But when you are an adult, you can’t bring your mum with you to hold your hand.
I don’t know if I feel very brave without you, I texted to my brother.
You’re very brave…you will be fine 🙂
So 7.25pm came and I left home, arriving at Canteen 20 minutes after the 7:30 start time. I was a little later than expected because my GPS decided to take me in an enormous loop, leaving me to navigate my own way. While people stood around chatting, I scoffed down a scone then filled my mouth with marshmallows for the sake of having something to do.
We then filtered into a room full of comfy couches and huge, squishy cushions, and started introducing ourselves, Alcoholics Anonymous style.
I’m Julia, I’m 22 and I’m a bereaved offspring member.
Then we all wrote down a question we had about cancer and threw it into a bucket, and each one was read out one at a time over a couple of hours so we could chat about it. Gradually, even though all on my own, I began to feel confident sharing my story and my experience with the others. I’ve realised I yearn to talk about Dad, and cancer, but it’s difficult to do without making people uncomfortable. So for me, a room full of young adults, most who have had a parent recently die of cancer, made for amazing conversation. People laughed as often as they cried. I did both at once for a fair portion of the time.
I left as anxiously and awkwardly as I had arrived, not really saying goodbye to anyone as I disappeared back into my car and drove home. But there was a part of the night where I had not felt even the tiniest bit alone, and that is a good start.
This is Julia, being grown up.