Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Weight of Friendship

For the last couple of months my little circle of friends has been swirling in turmoil.  One friend who had an ailing mother emailed me that things had gone suddenly bad for her and she was headed out of town to be by her Mom's side.  We texted back and forth many times a day and one afternoon on the way to the hospital she called me.  "I need to laugh," she said,"and you're the girl to do it."  We did laugh (over what I can't even remember) until she arrived at the hospital where things got real just by pulling into the parking lot.  A few days later her mother passed away.

Another friend is going through the same thing.  Her mom has bravely battled cancer for a very long time and her options have run out.  She is by her bedside now and shortly her mother will slip away as well.  We have been friends since grade school and I was the first one of our group to lose a parent. Lest you think that your presence won't matter at a well-attended funeral, I will say that seeing her and another friend that day had the most calming effect on me.  When I saw them after the funeral I asked both of them to come to the luncheon.  "No, that's okay.  It should just be your family," they said.  I insisted and am forever grateful that they were my normal on a day that was anything but.

A few weeks ago I got a text from a dear, longtime friend stating that her husband had cancer.  I read it three times in disbelief.  We texted back and forth until midnight.  The texts were fast and frequent after that while her husband had surgery and then began the slow process of recovery. When things had settled down at home I called her and we talked for two hours.  This week a new text.  She has cancer.  

Another friend lost her son suddenly two years ago and though her outward demeanor is cheerful and positive, I can see and feel her sorrow and there is no spackle for that kind of broken heart.

Every text, email or conversation takes me forever to form the words.  I type and delete over and over.  Will cheerfulness help or does that make me seem like an idiot that doesn't get it? Does the receiver look at their phone in disbelief like I have done or do the words offer comfort?

I never know if I'm doing it right.

But when I say that I am thinking of you I mean that when I am folding towels and making the bed I am thinking of you. When I stand in the produce section at the grocery store and have the hardest time deciding what kind of lettuce to buy it is because I am thinking of you.  At the stoplight, in line at the hardware store, and while making dinner I am thinking of you.  When I can't fall asleep at the end of a long day it is because I have signed up for the night shift to think about you.  When I go through a good portion of my day adrift, useless and unsettled it is because I am thinking of you.

I cannot stop thinking of you.

A reporter asked someone who lost several friends in the shooting in South Carolina how he was doing.  "I'm okay," he said.  "And then I have those moments......."  He started to cry.  The reporter said, "It's hard, isn't it?"

I watched it transpire on the nightly news thousands of miles away and cried too. Many times since then I have thought of him - this man whose name I will never know but whose broken heart was so raw and exposed and all too familiar.

Hard days indeed.

I get it.

1 comment:

  1. Kathy - I needed this Blog tonight. One of my dearest friends here in Vegas 7 years younger that me,
    died in her sleep Friday night. She had a son a few years younger than our Tommy and he married last year and they just had her first granddaughter in May. When I was notified by a former supervisor that she went to sleep and her heart stopped beating in the night, I was stunned. I had no words then and I have no words now. She divorced in 2011 and was getting ready to remarry next Summer.
    No warning , no illness just never woke up.
    59 years old and everything to live for and now she is gone. I guess all I can do is use her passing as a lesson in my own life. Not to take a second of my life with your Brother for granted. No matter what we can or can't do at least we are together. I prayed to my friend all day yesterday and I just read this beautiful story of yours. We all have things going on in our lives and it takes a Jolt to remind us that nothing lasts forever. I will be going to her Funeral on Wednesday . I don't know if the words will come. But perhaps my just being there will be enough. I am so grateful for your writing tonight.