On trying to Reach Out by Richard Bleil
This has been a difficult week for far too many of my friends. For some reason, it just seems as if there are far too many of my friends going through difficult times at the moment.
One of my friends has somebody very close to her that has been diagnosed with an untreatable form of cancer and given a very short period of time remaining. She (my friend) is struggling now because she’s so much in limbo. She doesn’t know how long it will be until she gets the call, and I think not knowing is hurting her more than just being able to let go, or, celebrate a miracle.
What do you say to something like this? I’m very much a “fixer”. When I hear a problem, I want to make everything better, but with liver and pancreatic cancer, there is no fixing it. I’m trying to be there for her, be a friendly ear, but it’s situations like this when you realize just how pathetically wanting the English language really is. There are no words that express the feelings in my heart, feelings that are making tears well in my eyes even as I type this.
Another friend is missing her dog. It’s another situation of just not knowing. Her “fur-baby” has been missing for a day, and, again, I am trying to be her emotional support as well. Reading this, I know there are some people who wouldn’t equate a missing dog to a dying friend, but I’m here to tell you that for many of us, and I am one of them, dogs are not just pets. They’re family, and not knowing is painful.
I lost my dog just a couple of months before my mother died. The reality is that when my dog died, I bawled my eyes out. When my mother passed, as bad as it might sound, I actually laughed. Not because she died, but because I had had such a horrible year that it was just the absurd twist that just had to be coming. But when I lost my Bella, I lost my partner, my confidant, the center of my world. When my wife came and went, when I was feeling isolated and lonely, when I had self-doubts and difficult times, she was always there with me. My family, and my mother included, pushed me away long before she passed on. But Bella never turned away from me. She spent her nights away as well, and I’m still hoping that my friend’s dog will return, but what do you say?
A third friend tells me that she is struggling with the holiday season. I think that she is suffering from a form of PTSD as she acknowledges that she is having trouble with past holiday seasons. Things are better now, but she seems to be waiting for something bad to happen.
I’m not much help for her. I can’t stand the holiday season, but I freely admit that it’s because of my current situation. I know I don’t like holiday celebrations, and frankly, I don’t want to be around people because I don’t want to drag anybody else down while I’m struggling. Honestly, when I was fortunate enough to be around family (okay, step like children), I loved the holidays. My friend has children and grandchildren, and a very tight-knit family. She is truly blessed; I just wish she could let go of her past and enjoy it, but, of course, there are those who wish the same thing for me.
It’s not easy letting go of the past. It’s very likely that I will always be haunted by the holidays of the past, as will she. I have no words that can help her move beyond her past, especially when I don’t know how to deal with my own.
And as for me, I’m feeling, well, helpless. I know my friends will be fine. They have fabulous family and spouses, truly incredible support networks that will help them to get through whatever happens. I guess that sometimes I just have to let go. I’m not as important as I would like to be. I know my friends love me, and they know that I love them. I’ll be here for them, and they know that as well. I’ll listen, and hurt for them, I’ll try to give them the best support that an absentee friend like me can provide, but distance limits what I can do. A shining example is the proverbial e-hug. It’s nice to let friends know that you care, and that you wish you could do more, but frankly, it’s not the same as wrapping actual arms around my friends, to embrace them, to physically be with them. But I will do what I can.
I just wish I could do more. And I guess I always will.