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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Woman Is Quite An Island

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. She and another dear friend make up our little triumvirate of insanity that is friendship as mature women. We've been friends since we were in Junior High, as they called it back then. They are both the dearest people outside my family, and I would easily drop anything, no matter the importance to go to them in a time of need.

They are people I think of daily, and yet we actually touch base a few times a year, but it's always as if we'd never been apart. The memories of some of the things we've managed to get up to since we were girls are legion. Not a word until the statute of limitations is up on some of them.

Today, one of them called me to let me know that her breast cancer had returned and that she would be undergoing a mastectomy after her last round of chemo was finished. Nuking it from orbit, just to make sure. I'll be honest, the minute she told me, everything stopped and solutions began running through my mind, but first and foremost was, once more, she's waited until AFTER to tell me. But, this is so HER that I'm not truly hurt by it. She's so stoic, so determined to handle things on her own that I have to stand in awe of her strength.

I'm so afraid of losing my friend that my brain does not want to work rationally, logically. Which, right there, should tell you the depth of my love for her. I want to fix it for her, make it all better, so we can get on with our friendship without worry. My two friends are my touchstones, and I don't know if they realize the degree to which I lean heavily on their friendship to get me through some days.

Our other friend, has recently lost a long-time significant other with whom she'd had an on and off relationship for the past twenty some odd years. I've only met him a few times, but I liked him, even if I wasn't entirely sure that he was right for her. I liked that the relationship brought her happiness and his death has hit her hard. This hurt that this was the first I was hearing about it, but again, that is just so... HER.

I know that my friend called me because she was feeling bad, due to chemo and needed to hear something good happening somewhere to someone she loved. I am happy to have been of service. My life is honestly and truly blessed. I have a new grandchild due any day now, and the future looks happy for me and mine. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel bad or guilty because my life is looking good, right now, and hopefully, my friends, who are hurting right now, can gain some comfort from at least one of us doing well right now.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Tomorrow I may need good news from them to help me make it through the next day.

And I just realized that is a trait shared between the three of us, aside from a deep desire to buy a cul-de-sac and ride around on giant big wheels, we are strong women, who prefer to do our suffering in silence, of soldiering through, of being the one that is there for others. I love them all the more for being strong, but I wish they would lean on me when they need to. I will always be there for them, even to the point of having to bring my neurotic rescue mutt along if I need to be away for a long time. (Big joke, we all bring our animals with us when we visit each other).

As I think about this I think that John Donne got it a little right when her said:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;

Any hurt my friends experiences me diminishes me because I hurt for them when they hurt. I have an overwhelming desire to make it better because I know that by the time they are talking to me about it, it's hurting pretty damned bad and they can no longer carry that weight by themselves.  I am only happy in the sense that I can help them carry that weight when they can't do it alone. So my fear of the loss of my friend is real, for I know it will diminish me in a way that can never, ever be fixed, healed or repaired.

They are that dear to me.

Please God, let them continue to do so for a very, very long time. Lord, hear our prayer.

1 comment:

Sharon Scully said...

That is a beautiful tribute to your friends. I too have a friend from my teen years whose breast cancer is back. I know this is it for her.. I already feel diminished. Thanks for writing this. Your words always help me.