The ‘friends’ that were there when the times were good quickly become a distant memory. No texts, no phone calls, no messages. Perhaps they are too busy posting on social media about their favourite album….People are afraid to ask how she is, they don’t want to relate ‘sickness’ to their own child, as if chronic illness can somehow be transmitted verbally.
Maybe you are no longer ‘fun’, the news you have isn’t of a new film, a new restaurant or a new all inclusive resort, it’s of the darker side of life. The blood, the screams, the tears. Of being incredibly scared. Its of trying to keep a job, a family and a relationship whilst spending nights on a fold out chair by a hospital bed. It’s of the next medical challenge you can’t lose sight of. ‘Me’ time is a concept that you lost a long time ago.
You start to filter information, only revealing what is necessary. People quickly tire of ‘too much’ negative news, there is a limit on what they can ‘take’. You learn quickly that they can’t really relate and don’t really want to, so you choose what to say and when. Your life becomes a series of sound bites.
Those unaffected have little interest in truly understanding. Ignorance is bliss. How is she doing? As soon as you begin to answer you see the eyes wander and the mind drift onto less ‘depressing’ topics. There are no further questions, they’ve showed an interest, their conscience is satisfied, they’re a ‘good’ person.
‘If you need anything, let me know….’ becomes the most overused, empty remark. You thank them, but you know they don’t actually mean it. You’ve seen how quickly the offer is rescinded and excuses made when you actually ask for help. Oh, I’m really sorry but I’m busy today but next week I can’…..like medical emergencies can be diarised.
You’ve heard the flippant comment ‘Well at least it isn’t too serious….’ as your child goes into emergency surgery, hours away from not seeing another day. Are you being too sensitive or are they really that detached from your life now?! You wonder how they would act if it was their own child being trollied into theatre. It all feels very abstract, someone else’s child in hospital.
Maybe it’s true, you have to compartmentalise friendships; some friends for fun, others for support and then those that you share a history with. But shouldn’t a real friend be multifaceted? Or is friendship fundamentally just people of convenience?
As you shelter in the darkness of the hospital bay, the flashing medical equipment gently illuminating your tears. You realise you are not alone. Your best friend is already there, she always is.
Life goes on they say, well it does for everyone else…..