Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In sickness and in health...

Yesterday I was sick.

I sent an e-mail apology out to my girls for missing class/training, and within around 2 hours there was a knock at the door. I was sleeping and vaguely heard voices, but feel back to sleep. Five minutes later, another knock, more voices. I went back to sleep, convinced I was hearing things.

When I woke it was to find two beautiful gifts from my good friends Emily and Linda. Grilled cheese, delicious soup, magazines, chocolate, everything I could possibly need to beat the crud.

I immediately sat down and had a nice long cry. Not the reaction you would have expected? Me neither. But it was a good cry- the kind that is full of gratitude, the kind that cleanses.

I can remember quite clearly one of the times I had pneumonia. I was probably 10, and I was miserable. I laid in bed, watching the sun trace across the ceiling of my bedroom, and I cried for my mother. She was at work, not due home for hours. I was so tired and felt so terrible, and I needed...something, someone. I remember falling asleep with tears on my face, the heat of my body radiating out into my small room.

I decided in that moment that sickness was weakness, and I would carry it alone. If I am sick, I will beat it. I will force myself to still go about my routine unless I simply cannot move. I force my body not to give in, because when I lie down memories creep up on me. I go it alone, and rarely even let Mark take care of me.

But yesterday when I saw these simple and loving acts of kindness, I broke a little. A part of my heart that was still hardened melted. I realized that I don't have to go anything alone anymore.

I'm not alone anymore. I'm not alone.

The best part of all of this is that I would do the same for my friends...nothing is too big, no gesture to small. Anything I have is theirs, anything they need. In giving I have been given back threefold.

Part of realizing my strength as a woman is in learning that I don't have to be strong all of the time. I can cry, I can hurt, I can be sick. I can be weak and vulnerable, and those that love me will never use my weakeness against me. Because that's what love is, that's what friendship is- being a fortress for each other when the other is weak.

I used to go to a wonderful church when I was in Texas. I remember quite clearly a sermon that has stuck with me for years now. My pastor was speaking about when our loved ones or friends go thru trying times. He said that the world tells us that this is not our problem, and that we should mind our own business. But the true mark of friendship is in saying- "I cannot get you out of your valley, I cannot save you from your troubles. But I can walk with you, I can make a fire and keep you warm, and I can give my shoulder, my words, or my silence. I can also promise I will never leave you and you will never be lonely."

I never understood that until now. But here it is, all these years later, and those words have meaning.