Sunday, August 3, 2014
Friendship & Illness
I've had the same best friend for 34 years. Just looking at that sentence makes me blink the shock of not only a friendship that has spanned decades but that I'm as old as I am - 43. Where do the years go? That's such a cliche question and yet, as cliches go, they are popular because they're true.
This friend is meaningful to me, as one might suspect. The history between she and I is full of laughter, tears, joy, pain and growth as women. We have seen each other through some of the best and the worst times in our lives, as girlfriends do for one another.
I sit here and recollect a hundred special memories. I could call her right now and say things like - Go Fish & Old Maid. Skittles taste testing. Marlboro menthol, Joe biting Kendall, wrecking your Chevette, Arsenio Hall, Beaches, Nora bar, kicking Betsy's ass, Baby Got Back and that silver necklace, Alan Jackson, and so much more.
Random words and we would laugh until we cried or start a conversation we left unfinished six months ago, as if we hung up yesterday. That's the kind of friends we have always been.
She is the one person (besides my younger brother) that was there for my childhood and that's important to me for reasons I won't go into right now. She could call me in the middle of the night asking me to unlock my door and listen to her until dawn and I would. I have. I can't think of much that I wouldn't do for her. On the flip side, she has done so much for me too.
And with all of that said, I feel abandoned by her through these last few years of illness. I know I could call her right now and say, "I need to talk about being sick.", and she would listen. But I also know she wouldn't really want to hear about it. She wouldn't honestly try to understand what I was saying or how I feel. I know that deep down, she would think I should 'quit whining and toughen up, get on with life', without realizing that's the point - it's impossible for me to get on with my old life or be the old me.
When we do talk on the phone, she tells me about her relationship problems and I listen, sometimes for long periods of time. I offer opinion or advice if she asks or if I think she's receptive to it. I tell her often the things I think are special about her, her best qualities. I give her my empathy, love and never make her feel like less for crying. I show her my faith in her strength as a person. I try to uplift her, to let her know she always has me in her corner.
That's what I need from her. It's what I have needed from her since I was diagnosed five years ago but especially now as the Fibromyalgia and some of the concurrent issues progress and become more debilitating. I feel like she willingly give that without being asked, as I would and have for her. That is not the case and as time goes by, she and I talk less and less and rarely see one another. I miss her, this girl that I learned to put make up on with.