Ode To My Friends
My perspective has not really changed much regarding the topics I’ve written about on this blog over the last months. I still experience the feelings I’ve discussed, and I still appreciate many things I’ve enumerated. The passage of time, however, has brought into focus some things that I couldn’t have understood a year and a half ago.
I have some wonderful friends. I always knew that they were good friends, but I didn’t know what I was going to need as I navigated this new life. They always seem to know though, and I’m so grateful.
What stands out to me is that they never, ever, give up on me. I’m sure I’m not the only grief-stricken person who has tried to lock herself away in an anti-social bubble. I know how to operate with Pete by my side, and I know how to operate alone, but I’m not used to operating in social situations without Pete. So, of course, I avoid them and then I don’t have to deal with the pain of the phantom limb.
But my friends don’t take “no” for an answer. Let me rephrase that—they do take my “no” for an answer, say, when they ask me to go to dinner, but then they ask again the next week--and again two weeks after that. And they keep asking, ever so gently and persistently, until I agree.
Most of the time if I say “no” it’s because I really can’t join them due to another engagement, or maybe I have to work. Often though, I just don’t have the strength. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m able to converse with any conviction. Sometimes I say “no” because it means I’ll have to make an effort to look good—to put on makeup and nice clothes, and sometimes that’s just too much effort. It just doesn’t feel like a priority.
I’ve also realized that I don’t need to make excuses. I told myself that if I’m going to turn down the offers from these generous people, then I’m going to be completely honest about it. I’m going to tell them that I’m too sad to be among people, or that it causes me anxiety on some days. I don’t conjure up make believe reasons. I’m just honest.
I’m not just referring to my friends who live nearby, but also my friends around the world. I might not answer the phone because I don’t have enough breath to talk that day. I might not answer a text because my brain is too foggy to construct a witty comeback. So they call again, and they text again, and they email again, and again I am grateful.
I will admit to you as I’ve admitted to myself, although it is hard to make forward motion sometimes—to commit to being social—once I’ve done it, once I’ve gone to dinner, or to a movie, a party, girls night out, I’ve really enjoyed it. I can feel the benefits of being surrounded by people who care about my heart, my mind, my well-being.
I don’t know that I would have the insight they do if our roles were reversed. I think that if somebody turned me down over and over, or didn’t return the call right away, I would assume they didn’t want to hear from me or spend time with me, and I’d probably walk away. At least that’s what I would have done. Now, I know differently. Yet another lesson I’ve tried to learn from living into this grief. I guess that’s the resiliency part. If I can feel bad, but still be open to learning something, then I’m not a lost cause. It’s part of working my way to the bright side of the road.
So I thank you—all of my friends. I learn so much from you. You continue to ask. You are gentle. You are not insulted, and you keep coming back. I can’t thank you enough.
Have you been able to accept the generosity of your friends? Are you honest with them?