The past few months have been trying for some of my friends – including my three Big Susans. Now, I’m not talking about regular hectic times like big project at work, visits from family or crazy ass summer social calendar. I’m talking about really big, life-changing, often really scary stuff.
I have tried, really hard, to reach out to these amazing women more often but really, M and I talk at least once a day; T and I at least a couple times a week and L and I at least once a week but email often. Quantity of communication isn’t an issue. We talk about whatever “it” is but more importantly, we talk about regular stuff. Work, kids, family bitching – the kind of things we always talk about. Because, sometimes – just being normal (using that word loosely – very loosely) matters more.
For T, the crisis was quick – relatively speaking - but felt like forever. The whispered conversation full of fear; the analytical talks about what if and rationalization of why things happen and finally, the unadulterated joy of good news. I cried when she called and had to call her back later to cry some more. I smiled like crazy all afternoon.
With L, life changes have equaled an upheaval of everything routine. I’m so proud of how far she has come - a testament to her personal determination to improve things for herself and her children. I want to check in all the time – giving advice and telling her what to do. But really, I just want to hear her voice or read her words and recognize the person I’ve known for so long that is finally coming into her own.
Today, I worried about M. It really started yesterday though. Worrying inside, I put on a calm front. I remained positive but was afraid. Just after 7 tonight, the news was awesome and all is well. I breathed a sigh of relief and though I wasn’t able to speak with her, I at least called her mom since that was as close as I could get.
Watching my friends go through harrowing times is so hard. Fear of losing them, seeing them hurt – both physically and/or emotionally – is deeply painful. I know what it means to lose a friend and all of those emotions I felt when Rona died were simmering in the background during some of these trying times. I never shared that with my friends – they had enough on their plates and how selfish of me to just think about how this may affect my life.
What these three amazing women have in common is strength and grace. You would have never known what was going on if you spoke with them, sat with them in a meeting or grabbed a quick drink. If you didn’t know them really well, you wouldn’t hear the fear, exhaustion or anxiety in their voice. If you asked them, they would say they were fine.
Appearances are deceiving. Be patient with your friends. Even if they aren’t telling you what is going on, just being a friend and letting them know you care can make a difference. Just grabbing coffee, a quick email or chat about nothing in particular can be a real breath of fresh air. I know that I will be more patient with my friends. I won’t push to know (oh alright, I’ll only push a little or at least less than usual) and will be content that just keeping it light doesn’t diminish anything or make me less of friend.
I feel so blessed that I know the truth about my Big Susans. I know that while we can have those hard conversations, our friendships are such that we can also talk about the benign things – listening between the lines and knowing that what is not being said may be I’m afraid, thanks, and I love you.