Since I’ve been writing this column, I’ve always maintained that I would write it if even no one read it. It came to me this week that’s only partly true. If it was completely true, I’d just write in a journal and keep it an a drawer.

But I’ve also said that I was doing it in the hope that it would help people, since all sorts of people do not have the good fortune to have a life like mine.

I suspect that plenty of people are truly lonely, with no one to talk to about the biggest things in their lives, good or bad. I think the good generally takes care of itself. It tends to spill out of us and even strangers will put an extra little uplifting ooomph in their greeting as they pass us in the street.

But I think the bad lives in a lonely place and wants you to live there, too.

That’s why I hope my writing touches you and makes the bad more bearable. Heck, you can have all the friends in the world to help you through things, but who doesn’t need at least one more?

I have an amazing support system. Family, friends, people I don’t actually know wishing me well and praying for me. How could I have all that and not share?

This week, though, showed me there is a linchpin to all of this — my wife, Sheri. She’s been gone for the last six days on a trip to see family, a trip that we were supposed to take together.

When it came down to it, I was just too sick to go. It was nine-hour trip to New York to see my daughter Alison and her family and to visit Sheri’s mom. Too much. I was disappointed, sad and felt that I had left everyone down. That happens a lot these days. I make plans, and then my body says, “Nice try, brother. Maybe next time.”

So, Sheri has not been here this week. Oh, I know that she’s with me all the time, regardless of where we are physically. Memories of her, of the two of us together, are everywhere I go, everywhere I look. The problem is that when we don’t get back together at the end of the day, a lot of those memories end up just making me sadder, more melancholy.

Back in the early 1990s, co-dependence became the next big thing in analyzing the human condition. It told us we tended to hang too tightly onto people we loved; we became too dependent on them for our happiness, for our own lives. I guess there’s some truth to that. But, I also think the idea of co-dependency ties negative bits to things that are actually wonderful.

When I’m sitting in the big recliner that Sheri insisted we buy, I want to be able to look over to the couch and see Sheri sitting there with the laptop and I want to hear her keep up her stream of chatter about what’s going on with our friends, her friends and the world in general.

I want to be able to see her excitement when our new cat offers further proof that he is Sheri’s cat, not mine. Oh, I think Wolfie thinks I’m probably OK, but Sheri is the bee’s knees in his world.

I need her to take my hand to tell me she loves me and make my pain and the fact that I have an incurable form of cancer bearable.

Yes, she can tell me all that on the phone. Now that we have cellphones, which she absolutely loves using, by the way, she can even write to me (texting) and send me a picture of who she is with and/or what she’s doing, and it’s wonderful … and it’s not the same.

Cancer has made me stop wondering if my behavior may be co-dependent. It’s made me love my family and friends all the more and realize it’s OK to need them; that it’s OK to let them help me, even though that’s the last thing I want, it can still be the one thing I need.

Sheri will be back soon, and we’ll take our accustomed spots on the furniture, and Wolfie will again show himself to be Sheri’s cat. And I know this: No matter how sick I feel, I will feel better.

Let me end with my usual Christmas message from Emerson, Lake and Palmer: “I wish you a hopeful Christmas. I wish you a brave New Year. All anguish, pain and sadness leave your heart and let the road be clear… Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell, the Christmas we get we deserve.”

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog,

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