One of the casualties for many of us who are chronically ill is friendship. I have ME/CFS and while I have been living a more normal life the last few years, for over a decade I saw almost nobody outside of my family. And though I had many friends before becoming sick, the vast majority of them fell by the wayside. I know some chronically ill people whose friends stuck with them. But so often this is not the way.
I guess this is natural. After all, when a friend is turned away at the door or phone calls are not returned for long enough, they may have no idea what to do, and often they give up trying.
It may be understandable, but this doesn't make it any easier for the ill person to deal with. The hours lie empty, the need to talk about what you're going through is unfulfilled. And even when friends try to be there, it can be hard to sit through some of the conversations the sick one needs to have with ... someone.
How many times do they listen to the symptoms, the fears, the pain that overwhelm their sick friend? How do they respond when there's nothing they can do to fix things, especially with an illness like ME/CFS?
Online relationships can help fill the gap. I don't know where I'd be without my friends around the world.
But sometimes I've felt like I'd give anything to have someone stop by for a chat, to laugh with, to listen, and who trusts me enough to share their innermost thoughts with me.
I've had a couple of short-lived friendships in my town in the last 10 years. It had been five years though since the last one.
And then my old friend Cheryl started showing up. We'd known each other two decades ago when our kids were small but hadn't been in touch for years.
Cheryl needed some typing done and knew that I could do that. She paid me for my time which I appreciated.
She brought me yarn from a yard sale because she knew I love to knit. She brought goodies she'd baked. She would just show up at the door bearing gifts, then give me a hug and smile goodbye as she went on her way.
Last fall I needed someone to watch my dog Cleo during a family wedding.