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.