Thank You For Being A Friend by Amy F.
So much of what is typically written relates to the patient and what they are going through versus those around them. As a patient, I can relate because what you’re dealing with physically and mentally can become all-consuming. Very often to the extent that everything and everyone else seems to be on the outside of your personal bubble. People may visit or call but then it becomes too much or they don’t know what to do or say so they don’t do or say anything else. This is ok and understandable as we, the patients, don’t always know what to do or say ourselves. And believe me, we get sick of talking about “how we are” as much as I’m sure many are of hearing about it. We would much rather talk about or deal with anything else than our health. And as for making plans and actually being able to keep them, don’t even get me started. Please understand, if we cancel it’s not you, it’s what’s going on with us. We would much rather be hanging out with friends or even sitting in meetings over feeling like garbage. Unfortunately though, some people do take it personally or get fed up and then the offers fade off.
I have often said that dealing with a chronic or long term illness is the best “friend litmus test”. Better than any lie detector ever made – you can without a doubt find out who your true friends are. They will break through that bubble and stick around regardless of what’s going on or how gross you look or feel. They will listen and really want to know about the good reports as well as the bad and won’t rush you off the phone when you’re freaking out or need to vent. And they will give you strength when you feel like you just don’t have any more in you.
I am very lucky that I have the support of my family and by no means am I looking to diminish that or seem ungrateful for all that they do and have done. But they’re kinda stuck with me so they don’t often have much of a choice. However, true friends, those who will shop for you when you run out of underwear in the hospital or wait with you in the ER in the middle of the night when they would much rather be anywhere else, those are the keepers. And I am beyond blessed to have two such people in my life that I would like to take this chance to thank for sticking by me through everything, even when I was sick of myself. Yes, I have told these two (along with family and others) thank you along the way. But last summer I was there for the best gift of thanks that I could ever wish for each of them.
Ironically, these two friends got married two weeks apart from each other. And while the timing may have been similar, the weddings could not have been more different.
The first was in Montana with incredible mountain ranges, clear streams and wide open ranges all around us. The wedding was taking place during the fires in WA, OR, CA and ID so the area had had a smoky haze and fireside smell lingering over it for days. However on the day of the wedding, we woke to clear blue skies, clean air and perfect temperatures. The wedding itself was held at a ranch with a barn for the reception and an incredibly perfect spot for the ceremony – under the shade of several large trees, with branches mixed with wild flowers as an arbor. But none of this amazing beauty even came close to seeing my dear friend in her wedding gown as she was about to walk down the aisle.
The other took place in Mexico at a beautiful resort. The ocean was incredible shades of blue and green. There were lush trees with coconuts, plenty of sunshine and ok it was super-hot, but the pool was a great place to cool off and have fun. This ceremony took place on a rooftop overlooking the beach and ocean under a white gazebo with a canopy and white flowers completing the amazing vision. And while we had goats at the ranch in Montana, in Mexico we had iguanas and monkeys. My friend the groom looked good in his white suit and if I say anything further that could be taken as girly or mushy I may get an eye roll so I’ll stop while I’m ahead.
As you can tell from my description and the photos, you couldn’t have had more differing locales. Goats vs monkeys, mountains vs the ocean, super cold at night vs humidity that did not quit even when the sun when down. And these were not your typical or easily accessible locations. The airport in Montana only has a handful of flights a day in and out. And Mexico as a destination wedding had its share of challenges as well.
But as diverse the locations, the weddings were equally similar due to the love of family and friends that came to celebrate. The love for my two friends runs so deep that I don’t imagine anyone who attended either wedding gave any of the travel challenges a second thought. Because that’s how incredible these two people are. And I know that I am so lucky and so grateful to call them my dear friends.
Now back to the thank you gift part…..
When you’re ill for a long time, going out of your way for even the smallest gestures can sometimes be difficult. Often a verbal thank you or a note may be all that is manageable. But for two people as important to me as these two are, I was always left feeling like I needed something more to express my gratitude. And at each of their weddings, the perfect gift for all of their caring and support became clear. It shone brightly in the joy and love that I saw in their eyes during their ceremonies and in the celebrations to follow. This gift is something bigger than any box could hold or ribbon could surround. More than anything I could have bought or created. But it is the perfect size of my heart’s wish for both of them.
And I can hear them both now as they’re reading this. She’s saying – oh this is too much, don’t be silly of course I’m there for you, we’re friends. And he’s saying – ok enough, I got it at thank you. However, not only was this time a gift for them, but the feeling I had after both trips was a gift for me as well. The reminder that no matter how you feel with your health, things don’t suck all of the time. That despite feeling crappy more days than you can count, there are really, really good days in there too. And the thought that there is hope for all us yet, no matter how bad it seems at the moment.
So Katie (who married Lucas) and Jeremy (who married Aida), I dedicate this to the two of you. I can say without hesitation that I would not have been able to make it this far without the unwavering support you have both provided me. And while I know that I have said thank you many, many times over the years for all that you have done, I cannot think of a better gift for two more deserving people than the love that I was lucky enough to celebrate with you.
Ok, now that they are totally embarrassed, my wish for all of you is that you are lucky to have at least one person in your support system as incredible as my two friends are. And while not everyone is going to go get hitched or can call out their friends in a blog, look at who has stuck next to you in that bubble and find your own special way to thank them for supporting you on your path to your New Usual.