Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Friends Become Family

Sometimes people disappoint you; it's just a fact of life. But you hope, when the shit really hits the fan, that the people you love the most will step up and be there for you. Sometimes you're wrong. You think that by fulfilling every obligation; weddings, communions, birthday parties, etc., that you have made an investment in your relationships. Well, not every investment pays off. An illness separates the men from the boys; or to put it bluntly, the people who really care about you from those who just provide lip service.

When you have been raised to think that family is everything this can be especially painful. Coming from a big Irish family where every event is a raucous affair, things have fallen eerily quiet. With a few notable exceptions, I haven't heard from most of my family since the initial diagnosis. My sister, who is a rock star in my mind for all she has done for me, brushes it off and tells me not to care. My mom does the same but I think it's more out of not wanting to get me or my dad riled up. It's funny because I've been told my whole life that blood is thicker than water. But, really, isn't it water that truly sustains us?

During my year long battle I have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support shown to me by my friends. It really has been extraordinary. They have rallied around me and buoyed my spirits in the darkest of times. Not a day goes by when I don't receive prayer cards, gift baskets, calls, visits or, at the very least, an email check-in. How is it that friends I haven't seen since high school and even some from elementary school can reach out while others have kept their distance? Is it that people don't know what to say? Well, let me clue you in...NOT saying something speaks volumes. These are the lessons that you learn when you're on the other side. So now I try everyday to let them know what they mean to me. To paraphrase the great Tim McGraw, I've become a friend a friend would like to have.

So, kids, today's lesson is...if you love someone, show them how much. Don't let not knowing what to say prevent you from reaching out. If you don't want to talk about illness talk about baseball or music or the weather...but talk. Or say nothing and just bring cake...cake makes everything better.

3 comments:

  1. Dear Kathleen, you moved me baby. I know you since your 14 years old and still you see that way....Well, certain parts of you are alittle different.lol.
    But on a more serious note; There is NOT a day that goes by where you are not thought of or spoke about. We all love you very much !!!
    Always, your favorite brother in law.....

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  2. Dear favorite brother-in-law,

    Thank you for always thinking of me and keeping my sister sane throughout this. Love you all from the deepest part of my heart.

    Leenie

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  3. You never really relies how much someone means to you unless you are faced with the reality that one day they might be gone. As in many relationships the "men" don’t know what they have until it’s not there anymore, and then they want it back and sometimes just sometimes it’s too late. With women we are funny characters. As a cancer survivor for 9 years, I to have experienced this in many great painful ways, but it has taught me that the old adage is true. “If you find one good friend in a lifetime, you are truly blessed and that is the friend I found in you! I am truly blessed for so many things, everyday.. But I have to say, sometimes it is painful to see a friend/sister you love dearly hurt and maybe a hug is all I could offer at the time because the words just seem to get in the way! So my silence but my presence makes the moment priceless. I love you and I am honored you have you not only as a friend but as a sister and as a member of the survivor club! You rock!!!

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