Over the last 16 years as our family has grappled with diagnosis after diagnosis for our children, it became clear to me we didn’t want to survive without a support system. Why should we? We had people who loved us, people who wanted the best for us and so when we needed them, they came. Most of them anyway.
Not everyone is suited to be friends with a family like ours. It can be intense in our world sometimes and I don’t fault anyone for wanting off the train that is our life. I even think about it sometimes. Friendships are generally like a tree ring, where a smaller, tighter group is towards you in the center and others are in the wider rings, more peripheral to your everyday living. Some of those friends flip-flopped. Not out of anything bad, just the nature of coming and going and stalling and growing.
Over the last 15 months as sadness overcame my life with the loss of my sister and mother and too many personal struggles, I’ve reached out to the numerous women and men I am lucky enough to call my friends (some are even in my family!). They’ve surrounded me with a blanket of love I’m familiar with because I’ve been wrapped up tightly before this past year. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve been able to – quite by accident actually – build this community I’m so humbled to be a part of, the same community who literally have helped me make it through many, many days.
What did I do?
- I was lucky to start off over the past couple of decades with an amazing group of friends that date back to high school and even my twenties.
- I let myself gravitate towards people who are authentic and I’m authentic with them.
- I cultivated new friends and was lucky to have some virtual friends become virtually indispensable friends.
- I ask for help without a care what people think I can and cannot handle (and what’s more, I let people help me).
- I remained interested in them and worked hard to stay connected to their lives, even though all of them were extremely forgiving when I had to duck out a little bit and deal with crisis.
It’s not especially hard to do what I’ve done, but it is hard to let go and let people in. We weren’t meant to do this world alone. We were meant to connect and help and love and learn. The many people who have surrounded me have taught me you are never too old to make a friend and you’re never too old to need one.
Thanks to you, you people, who join into little communities around people like us, who need a little more support than your average friend. It shows an amazing amount of grace on your part for you to keep showing up and loving us. You have no idea how grateful we are to have you in our lives.
We love you.
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