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The Strangers Who Saved Me

The stranger who saved me

The moment my husband was diagnosed with cancer it was as if I was plucked from my peers and layers of foggy plexiglass circled around me.

They could see me- but no one could “see me”.

They knew I was in there but no one could feel the weight pressing down on my shoulders.

They could hear me but no one could hear my cries- or the voice that screamed behind the windshield as I slammed my hands against the steering wheel.

I was surrounded by people and yet totally alone.

The loneliest girl. 

I recently found those words penned across a notebook page: A cry for help? A future title of a blog?- I’m not certain but I am sure it was exactly the sentiment of my day to day.

The very loneliest girl. 

I navigated the unknown with the wide eyes of the world around me not sure what to say, what to do, or even who I was anymore.

My loneliness lead me down a rabbit hole of the world wide web, searching for anyone, any sign of life that could validate I was still breathing. My shaking hands started this very blog as a simple, “Is anyone out there? Is this thing on?” 

The more I wrote, the more I shared, the more truths I told- the more they came.

If you write it, they will come. 

My inbox started to ding with whispers of those who’d assumed they were living in hiding, “Hi, I’m a caregiver too, I’m 28 my husband has cancer. I thought I was alone.”  Each note a little different, and maybe a little louder, but a common ground was built and we all started to find our footing.

It wasn’t my family, my best friends, my neighbors or co-workers- it was a group of internet strangers who were the first to see me with their very own virtual eyes.

I was no longer invisible. 

The week my husband died, I didn’t know where to turn. My skin would crawl if someone tried to hug me. My soul sank when someone in the halls would give me “the look”.

There she is, the girl, the wife- poor thing. I could hear their thoughts as their faces contoured into their best version of sympathy. And I was even more alone.

It was in the middle of the night with the beeps and shallow breaths beside me-  I reached out to a complete stranger.

“Kristin, it’s me, I’m scared. When will it happen? What will it look like? I’m so sorry to make you dig this all up again.” I typed quickly and waited for a reply.

She stayed up with me for hours. Re-counting watching her own husband die. The reality, the fear, the steady and calm I needed.

The night my husband died, I spent with a stranger.

A stranger who saw my heart and saved me.


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