The Comforting Arms of a Friend

Five years ago today, my husband, Shinko, phoned me, right before my dance class, to tell me he had just gotten off the phone with his oncologist. He had promised to let me know as soon as he heard the results of the biopsy that had been done on his pancreas. It was positive.

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Shinko told me not to worry and insisted I stay to dance, not wanting the cancer to rule our lives. After we hung up, I sat alone in the green room at the 5th Ave Theatre, feeling… sick? Desperate? I had just googled pancreatic cancer on my phone and was reading the grim prognosis, when my instructor, Troy, came in. Sensing I was distressed, he asked what was wrong. As the tears started to spill, I couldn’t speak, so just handed him the phone.

After reading a little, he sat next to me on the couch and put his arm around me. “I’m sorry,” he said gently, “My aunt died from the same thing.”

We sat and chatted for a while about death and dying, then got up and he embraced me. It was time to get ready for class.

This is what I remember the most, on that horrifying day, the gentle attention of a friend.

Over the next two-and-a-half years, Troy continued to check in to see how Shinko was doing, and how I was doing. He was one of the first people, outside my immediate family, who I told, when he passed away.

Even though we don’t dance together anymore, Troy continues to be a special person in my life. I think I see him almost as much as my family. He’s an actor, director and choreographer here in Seattle and I try to see all of his shows. I’m so proud of you, Troy, and feel lucky to count you as one of my friends. Thanks for being so loving and caring.

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