There have been many people who have held my hand over the past year or so, metaphorically speaking, and they know who they are without me needing to say. (the indicator here is if your heart skips a little as you read this – then yes, I am talking about you)
I remember during my recovery watching the drama The C Word, and wondering how Lisa Lynch could have possibly mustered up the courage to meet the girls she befriended during her illness?
These were girls that she had never even met in real life before.
I recall the scene set so clearly on the sea front as she stood there waiting for them with nervous anticipation & then the smile of recognition when they all finally met each other. The three of them sat on the pebble beach and made a toast to the one who had not made it. They chatted and laughed like old friends, as if they had known each other for many many years.
I could never do that, I thought.
I had avoided the offers of group sessions at all costs, as the idea of talking to people I did not know was just ‘not my cup of tea’. And yet somehow or other through the wonders of social media I have been lucky enough to have met two other ladies who wrote just like me. They wrote about their own stories in their own way, each with their own individual style. Rosemary and Allie.
Rosemary’s blog Cystaract [cystaract.wordpress.com] caught my attention on the day that her own mum wrote a post about how she had felt throughout her illness. It made me sit back and think of everything from a differing point of view. She writes of her family, her husband, her son and her parents. Rosemary’s writing is clever and thoughtful – while at the same time searingly honest, just as she is. #TeamPositive is the overriding theme (as much as it can possibly be when writing of something so difficult)
Allie’s blog AllieMoonJourney [alliemoonjourney.wordpress.com] also caught my attention the day that she read a post I had angrily written about IVF choices (tentatively hoping that it would not offend anyone). Allie writes about her beloved Pats and their friends and family too. I went on to read her blog in turn which is about a girl, very much like myself, who decided to write about her own rollercoaster ride with a hope to help others going through the same thing. Allie’s writing is honest and insightful, with a burning positivity.
In all honesty I am not sure how we became three and my memory will not allow for me to re-tell the finer points. It is just that we seemed to have formed a bond of familiarity and understanding between us along the way – no group sessions, no awkward questions, just three very normal girls going through illness at the same time, as chance would have it.
And so it came to be shortly after writing my own bucket list and as the New Year arrived, I decided to ask if perhaps we should all meet one day? I had been thinking about it for a while and I decided to honour my ‘don’t put off til tomorrow, what you can do today’ promise to myself. The others excitedly agreed and we pencilled a date in the diary despite ongoing appointments, scans and the pending arrival of a very special little grandchild.
The day finally arrived and I found myself driving to meet these two special people. Doing the very thing that I had been convinced I would never have the strength to do. I was nervous and the butterflies in my stomach fluttered and lurched around. What if they don’t like me? What if we don’t get on? Neither of which were particularly necessary because the friendship was already there, meeting or no meeting.
And yet there is something about illness that wipes your confidence and makes you less sure about yourself. Somehow the carpet is pulled out from under your feet & when you stand up again you are unsure and unsteady. You are definitely not the same person who fell down. Time is a healer it is true, but when you carry battle wounds it is something that can never be taken away.
So I found myself driving, regardless of nerves with a smile on my face. I knew that I would be meeting friends who understood it all.
It is true that each of us is very different with our own unique story to tell, and yet each the same somehow. We are part of a kind of club or ‘tribe’ as Rosemary once wrote. Nobody wants to be a member of it, but as soon as you are you stand tall and lift your head up high as best you can.
Our meeting was very special, sharing good food and wine and most of all laughter. We met Rosemary’s new grandson too who was the perfect reminder that life goes on and that every moment is one to be cherished.
This post is dedicated to Flynn David Albone – the little ray of light that we all very much needed.
Art credit: Yolande Sanchez