Last night, I spoke to a long-time friend, Lynda, who is very sick with cancer. She, in fact, helped throw my baby shower. I told her how sorry I was that I hadn't called sooner knowing that week after week I'd read of her illness in the church's bulletin and week after week, I did not call. Strangely, she too apologized for the same thing. She said she felt so badly about what was going on with me, she too just couldn't call. She reminded me that one night, she brought over dinner for two families to share. She told me only now that she sensed such a disaster, that one little one was a mess and crying, and that the tensions between the adults seemed palpable. I sheepishly reminded her how much we all appreciated her casserole that night and that I still had the green dish in my cabinet. We ended our conversation with a few tears and promises to stay in better touch.
What happens when you don't nurture the friendships with the people who you care about? What happens when you nurture them too much? For many months, my family extended itself, becoming a family plus 4, taking care of the needs of our (then) friends who were in a crisis of which we had never witnessed before. In reality, it may have provided the support that was needed for them, but it tore my family apart. It absolutely killed whatever vestige of a marriage I had left at that point (tenuous at best). You want to help those who you care about, who have helped you and cared about you. That's human nature and friendship. Even in the middle of the crisis, I was taking care of 2 extra kids, plus both of their parents. I was lauded by our church and our pastor for it and hated and resented by my husband for it. What a mess. Lynda helped a lot; others helped. It wasn't enough; it was too much for everyone. The village simply wasn't big enough.
Friendship, having seen it go when I wasn't ready for it to leave, is even more special and sacred because of this. It's the one bond that shouldn't let men or other intricacies come between it. It's an amazing bond between women which I have yet to see replicated by men.
I saw something interesting on the Today Show. The "expert" said that women should not date men who don't have their own friends. The point being that the men need their own support system and it is unhealthy for them to rely on their new female partner for all support. Truer words have never been spoken. Lynda said those words, gently as she said everything, to me over and over again.
Advice is good, healing necessary, but there is a profound sense of loss which tears at my heart and soul. This loss hurt me, it hurt my kids, and their friendships, too. What a strange way for things to play out. And then what a sad, sad way they can just as easily all fall apart. Thanks to friends like Lynda, any hurdle can be overcome.