“A slow walk into the amazing now: How a day with a sick friend brought me back to my senses.” By Ann Lamott, Salon.

Barbara was the executive director of Breast Cancer Action, the bad girls of breast cancer, a grassroots advocacy group with a distinctly bad attitude towards the pink ribbon approach. Susie was her ballast.

The worst possible thing you can do when you’re down in the dumps, tweaking, vaporous with victimized self-righteousness, or bored, is to take a walk with dying friends. They will ruin everything for you.

First of all, friends like this may not even think of themselves as dying, although they clearly are, according to recent scans and gentle doctors’ reports. But no, they see themselves as fully alive, only with issues. They are living and doing as much as they can, as well as they can, for as long as they can. They ruin your multi-tasking high, the bath of agitation, rumination, and judgment you wallow in without the decency to come out and just say anything. They bust you by being grateful for the day, while you are obsessed with how thin your lashes have become and how wide your bottom.

My friend Barbara had been already been living with Lou Gehrig’s disease for two years on the spring morning of our Muir Woods hike. She had done and tried everything to stem the tide of deterioration, and you would think, upon seeing her with a fancy walker, needing an iPad-based computer voice named Kate to speak for her, that the disease was having its way. And this would be true, except that besides having ALS she had her breathtaking mind, a joyously bottomless thirst for nature, and Susie, her girlfriend of 30 years, who gave her an unfair advantage over the rest of us. We could all be great, if we had Susie. We could be heroes.

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