I’ve read that hard times show who your true friends really are. Having never had an extensive list of people I could call friends, I wasn’t sure if that saying would play out as truth or not.
Four years ago, my marriage was on the edge of crumbling. It had been twenty plus years in the making, but the first four months of 2012 the deterioration accelerated at what felt like light speed. I’ve written about those incredibly difficult months on this blog. If you don’t know the story, search for “A Marriage Story” on this site. If you take the time and read through all eight installments of the story, you’ll see there were a few people who stayed constant throughout it. They did not run away in the face of my intense pain. For that, I cherish them to this day.
If you’ve read the last several entries on this blog, you know that life has been difficult for me. Thankfully, it has nothing to do with my marriage. In fact, my husband has stood by me through the darkest of days. Being empty nesters, he is really the only one who sees the difficulties each day has brought. He has weathered storms that potentially would cause others to abandon ship. The difficulties as of late have been health related–both physical health and emotional health have been affected and, I believe, feed off of each other so that neither feels doable at any given time.
There is a song playing on current Christian radio that starts with the line,
“It’s okay to not be okay.”
I have found that while many may think this to be true or desire it to be true, most of the time it is not. This brings me back to the old saying indicating that tough times reveal true friends. There are a few who are okay with the fact that I am not okay much of the time. Two of those people happen to be two who stood by me and walked with me through those dark days of 2012. To say I am thankful for them is an understatement. I no longer live near them, though, so it is difficult at times to remember that they are still on my support team.
Even more difficult is the fact that I have to remember that not everyone can truly understand what this road is like. Like many experiences in life, unless one has walked it or walked something similar to it, the reality of the pain, the loneliness, is lost on them. Last week I received a Facebook message from a friend (incidentally, also a friend who was invaluable during our marriage problems). This is not someone I see regularly, yet I know there is compassion and empathy in his heart. Those things showed in his message to me. I know he “gets it” because his family has been tragically affected by the same disease. I have read and re-read his message of encouragement to me. It wasn’t one of platitude. It wasn’t condescending nor judgmental. It was simply encouraging. But, of course, not everyone can “get it”. Still, I once had a very dear friend announce that she was dying from cancer. I have never had cancer. I’ve never been given a time limit for my life because of a spreading cancer. That did not stop me from loving her until the very end. I sent her cards and wrote notes letting her know how much my family and I loved her. I did not pretend to know what she was experiencing. I did not avoid her because I didn’t know what to say. I have often wondered if maybe in the course of my correspondence with her if I did say something that maybe I shouldn’t have. If so, I can only hope and pray that she knew where my heart was and that no bad intention was meant. I tried to be her true friend even through the most trying of times. She was blessed for she had many true friends. I wish I could say the same.