The Ones Who Catch You

A few years ago – shortly before my daughter was born – a friend of mine told me that she had cancer.

When I say “a friend of mine,” I mean someone I cared about; someone I had special, beautiful memories with. Someone who I thought was smart, and interesting. Someone who’d just had a baby a couple of months earlier, making her diagnosis worse than the worst thing imaginable. 

But by then, we weren’t especially tied into each others’ lives. In the old days we’d mostly been casual, going-out-type friends, and in the years since we’d grown up and out of bars and parties and late nights in the company of dartboards, and we’d emailed only occasionally. When the dust settled it turned out we didn’t really have much in common at all, and we lost touch. I didn’t even know what she did for a living, or her partner’s name. 

And then she got cancer. We emailed about it a bit. I didn’t know what to say. I wondered whether I should offer to come watch her daughter, or drive her to her appointments. I wondered whether it was my responsibility to be that person who showed up for her, because I knew so many people wouldn’t be; that’s just how it goes when someone gets sick. 

But – shamefully, maybe; selfishly, definitely – I didn’t want to be that person. And so I wasn’t. A few months later I moved to California, and life went on, as it does. We didn’t email again.

Awhile after we moved I saw that she’d put up a post on Facebook, about how you learn who your real friends are once you get cancer. I told myself the post wasn’t about me – we’d never been that close…right? – and I’m fairly certain it wasn’t. But it could have been.

When push came to shove, I didn’t show up.

There are a few things that happen when your life falls apart, and as it turns out, not all of them are terrible. You discover what you can do without. You discover what you won’t give up. And you discover what my friend realized all those years ago, and what I’m realizing now: it’s only when it all goes to hell that you find your people.

A little over a week ago I asked Kendrick – the father of my children, my partner for more than a decade, and a person who I love impossibly – for a separation. The days since have been the worst of my life. And yet they’ve also unearthed something I never expected; a discovery so beautiful it’s shocked me to my core: 

I have friends. 

I am so lucky. 

I almost can’t believe it. Me, who always felt strange and awkward and like I had to fake it – all of it – to make a person like me: it turns out I can be the saddest, most vulnerable and uncomfortable version of myself, and there are people who are there anyway. In my twenties, I did drugs to make myself “fun” in the way I thought people wanted me to be. I never believed that someone could love me if I wasn’t offering them something concrete – a companion for a crazy night out, a tab that’s on me, a beautiful house to hang at. I always wanted to hand over a sort of goody bag that people could take home as a reward for having lent me their time. 

And then I told my husband I needed a break, and now we’re on one, and life as I know it has collapsed. I’m not going to talk about the whys and hows, because I have nothing bad to say and wouldn’t say it even if I did – but love is not our problem. We’ve been stuck for years, tumbling around and around in each other’s anger and resentment and fear and never really breaking through, or at least not for long…and it felt like the only option left was to create a space in which we could clean up our grownup messes without making our kids a part of them.

I have a propensity for melodrama, so let me try not to overstate how I’m doing. In front of my children, I am a circus clown: cheery, full of ideas for craft projects and sparkly objects we can retrieve from the deep end of the pool. And then they cross the street to their friends’ house for a playdate, and I do yet another Google search for rental apartments I might be able to afford, but probably can’t. I think about my husband. I miss him. Then I curl into a ball, my forehead on the kitchen floor, and I scream like someone is trying to tear out my insides. 

Right now every single part of my life is a moving piece, and I am not someone who especially loves walking forward into the dark.

I’ve been making this joke lately – the kind of joke that isn’t a joke at all, and definitely won’t make anyone laugh. “How’s it going?,” someone will ask me. 

And I’ll respond, “The world is broken and cold. But I’m great!”


And then I will get in my car and check my phone, or return to my house and open my email. I will find missed calls from my mother, and my father. A text from Francesca: “I love you. That’s all.” An email from a friend who never stops checking in on me, even though I’m shitty at responding, and a group text from two women who’ve only been in my life for a couple of years, but who collectively decided to ignore me when I said “I’m fine! Really, I am!,” and came over the second their children fell asleep.

On Wednesday morning I got a text from my one of my oldest, dearest friends: one of my college roommates, Nes. Last week I gave her a brief update on my life, and the next day she booked a flight to San Jose. She was texting me to let me know that she’d landed, and was en route with coffee for us and pastries for the kids. Yesterday afternoon she made them macaroni and cheese and waffles, and told me to stop apologizing and go take a nap. 

I’ve wanted friends forever. It took my life exploding for me to realize that they’ve been there all along.

Bad things happen. Careers collapse. People get sick. Relationships break. And then sometimes, when one of your nightmares come true, you wake up and discover that your people are there to catch you when you fall. 

  • sara watson

    How are your kids holding up? It was such a relief to us when my parents separated and became amazing friends, so I hope you’re not worried about them. Our parents’ happiness is so important to us. And my parents always said they had a v. successful divorce and a less successful marriage so I hope it works out.

    • jordanreid

      They’re doing well. I think the reduction in tension had a really positive (and immediate) effect on them.

    • Olivia

      SAME! My parents split when I was 13 and our whole life was immediately happier.

  • Caroline

    Long time lurker, second time commenter: Jordan, I’m so sorry to hear about this. Relationships can be hard, and with kids it can be impossible even for the most loving of partners. As a mentally ill person who has to mange themselves on an hour to hour basis, I hate that everyone is abusing the term “self-care” these days. It demeans the real need that some of us have to take care of ourselves in difficult times. But here I say: take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, put your oxygen mask on and BREATHE. Let go. Time will pass whether you want it to or not, so allow it to unfold and open yourself to whatever happens knowing that you are a good person, partner and parent that while imperfect, is always trying. And that is enough.

  • Ronja

    I did not see that coming, in this post or otherwise. I read that paragraph 3 times as I physically felt my heart sink with each reading. I’m so so so sorry. The best part about the bottom is there is only 1 way to go, up. Do yourself a favor and start listening to classical music only on the radio. That was my little trick when my first marriage failed. It helps not to listen to song lyrics.

  • m

    Oh my God, Jordan. I’m so so sorry. I’m sorry you are in such pain, I’m sorry you feel like the world is falling apart. But it is not, trust me. My husband and I went through something similar a few years back. It was a dark, dark year. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t feel pain forever. For us, the darkness helped us rebuild our marriage. But even if at the end of it we would have decided to split up forever, everything passes. Hang in there. Lots of love.

  • Chantal

    Oh Jordan, I am so sorry! As a reader you can only know so much, but I had a feeling something was going on and this was my fear. I am sending you so much strength and love. I honestly believe that life is a balance and you’ve had your share of shitty things happen so just hold on for the magic! Xo

    • jordanreid

      I can’t say I’ve been a big fan of 2018 so far. It’s time for fewer shitty things, I think 🙂

      • Chantal

        Also, I’m so so glad you have friends and family for support but I hope you find a really good therapist. A broken heart is just as painful and real as a broken bone and you may need a professional to help it heal. Feel free to ignore this — just sharing what has helped me. Xoxo

        • jordanreid

          therapy is definitely going to be a big part of this process, for both of us.

  • Kaela Bergquist

    We must be very in https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/67c25ac74622ea65122cf3eb46ae2cb75211859d4dabdf9cb1f7a0cd7166457e.jpg tune to you to read this and not be entirely surprised after years of following along, not knowing everything but still able to tell when something isn’t right. Wishing my pups and I could fly across the country to offer slobber and comfort food.

    • jordanreid

      Thank you <3

  • I’m so sorry you are suffering. I’m so sorry to hear this. I believe your family will come out of this–in whatever form–stronger and closer and I am rooting for you from afar. Thank you for sharing. Your thoughts about friendships–something I have also struggled with–buoyed me. I have recently come to realize that real relationships come from opening up to people, being honest, asking for help when I need it, and showing up for others in return. Difficult times accelerate the process and, when we’re lucky, show us what we have. Love.

    • jordanreid

      <3 <3 <3
      I think you're right, about coming out of this stronger, in whatever form. But right now it feels like life is sort of…shattered. And I don't know what it's going to look like when it's put back together, which is a scary feeling.

  • Luisa

    Breathe through the moments when it feels like there is no air. You will find the air. I’ll be thinking of you. xoxo

  • Rosie

    Hi Jordan- so sorry this is happening. Marriage is so hard, but I think it is so hard because we are hard on ourselves, and then in turn we are hard on our partners. There are so many little secrets we keep to ourselves without knowing it; like where we thought we’d be by now, or what you really need to hear from your significant other. Or just that bearing the weight of that person is breaking you. We really don’t realize the unraveling of a relationship until it hurts so much and it feels so broken beyond repair. Sometimes it’s better to stay and sometimes it’s better to leave. People are always changing, you do it, he does it, and it’s so hard to keep up with each other and to love and let this new person in each time. My husband and I recently admitted to each other that no matter how much we love each other, we had fallen out of love. Way out of love. That hurt so much to hear, especially from the man who always loved me no matter how bad I looked or the mistakes I’d make and it still hurts so much. But here we are, living with that truth, looking each other in the eyes, trying the remember why we started. I hope that time makes a fool of us, that this unraveled love finds it’s courage and that we both break down our fortresses. You are not alone and just remember that displaced love can be found again, wherever that may be.

  • Olivia

    Proud of you, lady.

  • C

    Sending love and strength – I’m so sorry your world is flipping – xx

  • noelle starkey

    I’ve read you for years. I am very sorry to hear about the separation. I wish you the best and there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I promise 🙂

  • Kb

    Reading you the last few years I have felt such a connection to what my husband and I are going through. We love each other so much, and our love was always based on a kind of crazy passion and connection that does NOT translate well to being normal human adults, who have to live together and maintain a normal adult life together. We discovered that we’re shocking incompatible in almost every way besides the crazy and overpowering love. The trouble is that once we had a kid and got real-person jobs, it’s almost impossible to get by without the kind of boring, basic compatibility that we lack. Day to day, we drive each other absolutely crazy. I don’t know what to do. We have a son now, and we need to do what’s right for him, we both know that much. We’ve been considering a separation for a long time, but, like you, the love is there and so strong. So what do you do with that?? Anyway, all of that to say I feel you, and I’m sending you all the courage and love.

  • Lili

    Oh, Jordan. I’m so, so sorry you’re going through this. I’ve always admired how much of your personal life you’ve managed to keep private, which seems like such a difficult line to walk when your job involves a lifestyle blog. On the other hand, as a married mother of two, I’ve always appreciated your posts where you’ve shared parts of your family life and kept it real about how much work a marriage takes, especially in the midst of parenthood. Blogs are weird creatures, aren’t they? You don’t know me, but after following your blog for almost 10(!?) years now, I feel like I know you. You’ve offered so much of yourself to your readers over the years, and a post like this one feels so personally devastating to some of us. Please know, from the bottom of my heart, that I consider myself your friend even though we’ve never met. And I know I’m not the only reader who feels this way. I hope you find comfort in the fact that you have an army of devoted readers/friends who are always in your corner and rooting for you, no matter what. <3

    • Cheryl Withrow

      Same! Been reading your blog every day since it appeared on Julia Allison’s site (hahaha). I’ve enjoyed and related to all of your ups and downs and am with you in spirit as you navigate this too.

  • laurenj79

    I am so sorry that you are hurting like this. Sometimes we must do the hardest thing and we just have to hope and trust it will work out okay in the end. Keep leaning on your people, you need them right now. This long-time reader is sending you hugs.

  • Oh, Jordan. I’m very sorry to read this. You sent me an incredibly sweet email when I was having a moment of parenting panic, and I’ll never forget how much I appreciated that kindness from (basically) an Internet stranger. I’m glad to hear that the kindness you put forward is being reciprocated in this challenging time, and I hope it helps things to land more gently.

  • Lauren

    I’m so sorry. I’ve been reading you for about 7 years and could tell that something wasn’t right – have been able to tell for a while. You wrote me an incredibly kind and supportive email when I endeavored to comment on one of your more political posts, and really was touched that you reached out to me. I just wanted to say that I’ll be thinking of you, and hoping that at the end of all of this, you and Kendrick come to the right conclusion for the two of you.

  • Chiara

    Dear Jordan, I‘m so so sorry to read this!! I send you lots of love and support from far away! I hope everything will be better soon!

  • EM

    Jordan, I am so sorry to hear this. I’ve been reading your blog since you started it in NYC. I could tell that something was up with you over these last few months, and I had been suspecting that you were having problems in your marriage. And then I read the birthday post last month, and my heart sunk. I knew.

    Honestly, a lot of your posts and life choices over the years have frustrated me, exasperated me, disappointed me, confused me. You’ve been a hate read for me at times. But I I care about you. My stomach churned this morning reading this post. This moment in your life sounds absolutely awful, and I feel for you.

    Of course I’m curious and have lots of questions (you wanted a baby with this man a few months ago!) but I understand why you don’t want to get into the hows and whys on the blog. I re-read the 2 posts you linked to above and had to blink back tears. When you write from the heart like this you always hit it out of the park. I guess this is why I have followed you all these years.

    You don’t owe your readers or anything. This is your (very) personal life and you should share what you’re comfortable with. But I hope (maybe in time?) you can write more about how you and your husband got to this point. How you made this decision. How you got the courage to separate. Because it takes a lot of courage to do what you’re doing. A lot of people don’t, and they suffer in an unhappy marriage for years, maybe forever.

    I genuinely hope you and your family find peace and happiness. I am rooting for you.

  • Anya Wyers

    Jordan – I don’t really know what to say but I wanted to reach out to you to confirm what the others are saying in that your readers are invested as your friends as well. I think that last time I commented I didn’t let it be about you, and I think that right now you are doing what is very best for you and I send you nothing but love and positive wishes for you and your family. ❤️❤️💚

  • I too have been reading since y’all were a triad in NYC and I think there are a lot of us out here who would say we consider you a friend… even though we’ve never met and you have no idea who the hell we are! This part sucks. A lot. But your writing about it is beautiful and vulnerable. This too shall pass.

  • Sarah

    Oh, I am so sad for you and him and your babies. As a long time reader, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this post but hoping it would never come. I truly hope, unlike other post that say it will be better no matter the outcome, that the outcome is your family reunited and happy. While we’ve never met, you can count me among your friends. You’ll all be in my prayers. Your life seems to be in a very tumultuous time with your health and your mom’s. I’m sure all the worry is such a burden on you. Lean on those that love you.

  • HopeV

    I’m so sorry you are going through this but I’m so glad you have friends that are catching you through this difficult time. I hope you know you have a virtual tribe that cares as well and are supporting you along the way.

  • momtobe

    Oh man. I’m so sorry to hear that. I can’t imagine how it feels, but I hope you surprise yourself with how resilient you turn out to be and how you change.

  • Linda

    #priviledged #whitepeopleproblems #tldr #noonecurr

    • Milene Kennedy Crispin

      how is it so incomprehensible that someone would be sad to take a break from their marriage? Oh, the privilege!

  • Milene Kennedy Crispin

    Jordan, I remember first following your blog in 2008/09 from my tiny apartment on 71st and York. Eventually moved to Menlo Park, had a couple of kids, and now in Carmel. Sort of felt we had parallel lives but felt weird reaching out. I always appreciated your honesty about everything, including marriage. It’s so hard. And your revelations about your life always made me feel less alone. You don’t know me but I feel like we are friends- I have been feeling so much pain for you since I read this post. How difficult the past few years must have been for you to finally come to this decision. I’m so sorry. If you even want to come to carmel, do a secret beach hike, and binge on sushi and wine, please reach out. Otherwise please know how much we all care about you and want you to just feel supported.

    • jordanreid

      Milene, thank you. A secret beach hike (and ok, sushi and wine) sound wonderful – next time I’m down in Carmel I may just have to take you up on that <3

  • smalina

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve been reading your blog ever since you started it and feel lots of kinship with you in many ways, not least bc i saw you become a mother at about the same time as I was going through it myself. I was just thinking about how you were in the very very beginning, when you just looked so happy and at peace and you and Kendrick were a team. I hope you can get back to a happy, peaceful state, whatever that looks like circumstance-wise with you and K. big hugs.

  • M’s mama

    Hi Jordan, I’m very sorry to hear about the struggles you’ve been going through. It sucks when things fall apart like that – there’s no way to sugarcoat it. I really resonated with your post, although we are in very different situations. I lost my 3 day old daughter four months ago due to a rare heart defect that wasn’t detected in utero. My life just came crashing down on me. Here I was, expecting to take home a healthy baby, and we were planning her funeral four days after I gave birth to her. The outpouring of support from friends and family was swift, which I am forever grateful for…and a few months later, I am still amazed by those friends who KEEP checking in on me, who KEEP showing up for me. It’s just invaluable. I hope you will continue to find strength, knowing that you have people in your life who will be there when you need it the most. <3

    • jordanreid

      M’s mama – I can’t even imagine. My heart breaks for you.

      Thank you for reaching out – I’ll be thinking of you as well.

  • Anon

    Sending you, K and the kids love. Love, love, love.

  • Jenna

    Does what you are going through change how you would have reacted to your friend with cancer?

    • Jenna

      .. and I should have added: I am sorry you are in a less-than-perfect situation, but I am sure your love for each other and your children will guide you to where you and your
      children will be happy. Removing toxicity and reevaluating life is scary, but very admirable.

  • Staci Lawrence

    I don’t know how I missed this post before now…Oh Jordan. I know we’re strangers but you let us all in to your life and I KNOW I’m not the only one who feels (sees?) a kindred spirit in you. One…day…at…a…time. Sending you love.

  • Melissa Thompson

    Dear Jordan,

    When are scared about losing our lives, it is another level of pain to lose our friends, too.

    Cancer is a war of empathy. Speaking on behalf of those in my position close to me: we take care of our kid(s), even if it means they sleep in our hospital beds; uber can drive us when we can’t and paid babysitters alleviate the concern of asking for favors.

    We don’t demand anything that would be burdensome, but we are eternally grateful to those who just ask how we are doing – knowing we haven’t been forgotten or abandoned just because we were sick and it was too stressful for the healthy friend to face.

    As a young adult cancer patient, I worried more about those who worried about me; never asking for “that person”. Speaking for amost AYA cancer patient’s I have met: we don’t shoulder the burden of logistics to busy people (or most often, to anyone). We know that we alone bear the responsibility for our well-being, we do not shirk that burden to anyone – especially to those who don’t clearly want to be in that position.

    You are really lucky in life to have a lot of friends who care enough to stick around through tough times. While it seems you do realize your fortune in that, I hope you also have a chance to consider how differently things could have turned out.

    Hypothetically, you are met with tough times. You tell a few friends and they ask about your situation with curiousity – not from a place of love. You don’t receive the occasional heart-warming text message from someone you went to high school with years ago, and now you live without certainty that if you make a phone call to a friend, that she would even answer. You are dying or facing the otherwise difficult circumstances and realize that without a beach house to offer or cocktail dates to schedule — you are alone.

    We are already scared, possibly facing death. It makes it harder to fight to live, when we also know people are already trying to forget us.

    Here for you,