Saturday, July 5, 2008
Circle of Friends
The weeks that I have been dealing with this incessant bowel business have been trying. Since the end of March, when The Troubles began, I've lost 30 pounds, and some days it's all I can do to shower and get back into bed.
Being this weak, and knowing it would only get progressively more so till we got the medication issue straightened around, I was thrown on the horns of a practical dilemma--but also had to face one of my deepest fears head on. I live alone. I have no Perfect Husband to wait on my every need, no Utterly Uncomplaining Children to make sure that I always have what I want, even before I know I want it. You know the kind of thing you make movies out of in your head when the mere details of reality are no obstacle. My friends with real husbands and children tell me I must be on more drugs than I realize when I start talking like this!
I have always been afraid of how I would manage when, well, I couldn't manage. And now I know.
When my friends and I realized how vulnerable I was by myself, we (mostly meaning they) mobilized into action. I have always been fiercely independent, mostly successfully, and while I had gratefully accepted help all these years to get to and from chemo, or to cope post-surgically, I had never been in a position where I actually couldn't trust my own judgement about how well--or not--I actually was.
Not eating for days will do that to you.
So here's what we did. A group of friends called a meeting to set up a roster so that every day for at least 4 hours, someone would be with me to do chores, make sure I ate, take care of anything that needed taking care of. The cats, by the way, send their total gratitude for this!
They posted a Google calendar so I could see who was coming when. I didn't have to make a decision, lift a finger, dial a number. Hell, I didn't even have to be awake.
They are caring for me in the most loving and careful ways, and my deep fears have simply melted away. There could not be a better gift in all the world to give a friend who doesn't always even have the energy to say what she needs.
But here's another thing we are finding out. All of us (including me, before this latest drama) are very busy in the world. Most people work, but even retired people like me get booked up with lunches and shows and shopping and god knows what all. These past three weeks, I feel like I have found my friends all over again. The most precious thing we have been sharing is just our hang-out time. Yes, the practical help is essential--but nobody is rushing in like the White Rabbit in a hurry to somewhere else.
Just sitting or lying around sharing what we most love about one another--that is amazing. Every person is precious to me in unique ways, and like Slow Cooking, I am basking in that uniqueness again, remembering all over why we like one another so much.
It's not like having visitors--in fact, we all agreed not to do that. I don't have to rise to anything, although I've always been good at it. And they bring their own selves ready to have tea and stay a spell.
And the best thing is that as people are able, the circle gets bigger and more complex. It's like we are all growing very long arms, caring for one another.