Friendship on our Level

A friend told me something powerful today.

That if I wasn’t here, she wouldn’t still be here.

Let that sink in for a moment…

That if I wasn’t here, she wouldn’t still be here.

That if I wasn’t here, she wouldn’t still be here.

It took me aback for a minute. I took it like, if I wasn’t here, neither would she be, as in like…life. It could go so many ways, suicide? Running away? Wither up and dying from my lack of horrid jokes and hummus desk snacks?

She said it seriously, with tears in her eyes. I was speechless for a moment. That is quite a powerful message to hand someone…without an explanation. But that significant message was oh-so precious. It must be handled carefully, like a delicate orchid and treasured for the meaning behind it. It is not something you can laugh off or pish posh.

If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be here. Think about it.

Looking back on it now, I believe she was speaking of work, like she would have quit her job by now. But either way, it is quite the statement.

She values our friendship so much that my simply being here, alters her life, her path, her choices. That my dear folks, is friendship at its most deepest and cherished level. We are not simply co-workers that sit beside each other and fill our days with idle chitchat. I care about her life, I feel like I know her daughters and mother on a deeper level than I actually do. I feel her pain and I share her shining moments. We get a kick out of word play and grammar puns, she is my go-to gal for English questions, like, “do you ‘bare’ with me or ‘bear’ with me? Either way sounds not too fun!” She cares about others, to the point that she puts herself out. She will stay late after her shift to finish your conversation and she slips you a homemade concoction of essential oils when you have the sniffles. She is older than me by a generation I would say. One of her daughters is my age and yet, I don’t feel “mothered” or that generational gap that I feel with other older people…she is just…her. Beautiful in both mind and spirit. She often gives me pause. She will say something or forward me something to read and I have to actually think about it before I respond. She understands life differently than most. She understands life on a different level than most. She gets what is hidden in-between the lines and words and interprets them for me. She stops and looks at sunsets and frost patterns on  windows. She sees the beauty that most of us just walk by without notice. She literally stops to smell the roses. She’s like a Buddhist monk hidden in a little lady’s body who wears 2 coats in the winter for quite logical reasons.

Cancer has taken so much from her and although we have cancer in common, both being caregivers and supporters, our journeys have taken very different paths. Our roads with grief, guilt, stress and eventually healing has been rocky and bumpy and filled with potholes. But we share it together, over cold leftover toast and a cuppa tea.

She has seen some dark places but she has also lived in the light. She married her very best friend only for him to be taken away by cancer at a young age. You can tell his presence is missed daily and also deeply. She lights up when she tells stories about him. There is a twinkle in her eye that is rarely there…it is great to see. And yet, the pain is evident. She sometimes reminds me a granite boulder. Strong and powerful, hard to break and why would you want too, as the colour and texture is breathtaking. And yet, there is a crack. A single, small, chip in her granite. The water gets in, year after year, the fall of winter and the rise of summer brings this crack to the surface, getting bigger, more significant and stands out. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see a chip in a perfect piece of granite and not be able to do anything about it. No amount of duct tape, hugs, tea or alcohol (my go-to fixer uppers) will fix this crack. It will always be there. That is what cancer does. Cracks a perfect life, splits a happy marriage and family, chips a woman until she is on her knees baring the weight of all these broken pieces on her back. This is not weight that anyone else can carry. I hope with time and support and love, she will be able to stand tall again. Some days are worse than others, for both of us. But I think, together, we got this…

We may differ in so many ways, her husband died, my son survived. She struggles with loss and loneliness, I struggle with clinginess and neediness, I love pretzels , she threatens my life if I mention them and she is Scottish where I am English! It is amazing we can even sit together! And yet, as shitty as cancer is, I feel like this friendship is something amazing that came out of it.

And on some levels, if she were no longer here, a very big, granite sized piece of me would be gone too…

And please remember, no matter how alone you are feeling, you are never, ever, ever alone. Please reach out…