LOUISE: The Sacrifice of Friendship
Being my friend is not an easy task. Oh, I’m not that hard to get along with. Well, not completely sure about that. Some might give that an affirmative. But I can truthfully say I am blessed with wonderful friends. Have been all my life. Not just mere acquaintances but true friends who come to my aid when necessary. The reason I say it is hard to be my friend is that I can’t always respond in kind.
I am a caregiver. Plain and simple. I care for my 39-year-old son who has major health issues as well as developmental challenges. Though I opted to be a stay-at-home mom when my children were young, retiring early from my teaching career, this is different. Jay and I are home 24/7. When my late husband was home, he provided respite. Today, I hire someone to stay with my son when I have an outside engagement or simply want to have lunch with a friend. It isn’t a bad life. I’m not complaining. But being my friend can be a challenge. You can’t stop by if you aren’t totally healthy because of my son’s compromised immune system. And I may have to cancel on an event at the last minute.
But I am thankful for the people who encourage and support our friendship. One girlfriend recently brought her handy husband to jumpstart a car battery for me. Last summer, when I brought Jay home from the hospital, friends dropped off food and even flowers. Some sweet souls have stayed with Jay when I have doctor appointments or go to the hair salon. A few have even met me in the ER when life turned upside down. Several friends phone, text or e-mail to stay in touch while others connect on Facebook. Thankfully, I have been able to reciprocate in various ways, even though true friends don’t really expect that.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, some special friends in Arkansas come to mind. In November 2011, Jay and I spent the month in a small rental house in Bella Vista. The reason? It was the opening of the beautiful Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas where my son, Aaron and daughter-in-law, Amy worked. My husband had looked forward to opening day since the date they started the building. He even had Google alerts on his computer and we were on the grounds in November of the previous year to see what progress had been made.
Then suddenly, pancreatic cancer struck and Carl died on May 29, 2011. Now here I was at opening day without him. Not only that, but I had rented the house for a full month which meant I would be there for Thanksgiving. Aaron and Amy usually spent the holiday with her family so I planned to spend the day in our little rental with Jay.
However, Linda, Aaron’s mother-in-law, had a different idea. She asked if Jay and I would join their family for Thanksgiving dinner. We accepted. It was still a sad time for me without my husband, but I so appreciated the warmth of fellowship on a holiday that Carl and I had always cherished with family. It has been four years since that dinner in Bentonville, and not only have Linda and I become friends, but we still spend the Thanksgiving holiday together.
Through the years, I’ve learned that every good friendship requires a sacrifice of sorts. A little give and take. But oh, the rewards! I hope you have some wonderful friends in your life. As for me, I am bountifully blessed.