When We Are Dying We Will Embrace The Love Of Those Around Us

It’s a brisk September morning. The chill in the air is minimal, but after a 90 degree day it feels freezing. A few yellow leaves drop to the ground as I walk with my daughter. The kids are back in school so there is much activity. Many dogs accompany their families on the walk, and we see many bike riders pass on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail outside of DC.

It’s mornings like these that I treasure. Walking my children to school, talking and laughing along the way, saying hello to passing friends and neighbors. Life is fleeting, my children are growing so fast, time is so precious.

I come home to a quiet house, the silence is both welcoming and unsettling. I pet our bunny Peanut and hamster Zaychu to remind myself that I am not all alone.

I think for a few moments about death because September 25th will be the one year anniversary of the day I almost died from multiple bilateral pulmonary embolisms. I am so grateful to be alive, but am still haunted by that day. I am still trying to recover both physically and mentally.

I look at the devastation that is going on in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and once again I am reminded of my blessings. I sip my chamomile tea as thousands of people are struggling to find drink, food, shelter and clothing.

We never know when tragedy will strike. We never know when we will require assistance. We never know when our last day will come.

That is something that we all have in common. That is what makes us human.

I remember the tough year I just had, and see the tough times many people in the world are facing, and I feel saddened.

Then I look up from my keyboard and witness the humanity, courage and love that always follow each and every tragedy. Each and every personal loss.

It is like a tide that ebbs and flows throughout our lives. Sometimes we’re up. Sometimes we’re down. But, hopefully we will have loving friends, family and community members around us as we tread carefully through this life.

There are constant reminders of the fragility of life. There are constant reminders of the heroes and helpers who help us pick up the pieces.

They are there without a moment’s notice. They are not there to seek accolades. They are just there to help.

If we all try to be like them, then our world will be a much better place.

When we are dying we will embrace the love of those around us. When we are dying we will think about whether or not we made a difference in other people’s lives. When we are dying we will think could we have done more? Could we have loved more?

The answer is always yes.

We can always do more to make ourselves and others happy. We can always do more to make others smile. We can always do more to help our neighbors who are without food, shelter or healthcare. We can always do more by standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

One year ago I almost died.

This anniversary means so much to me. I will raise a glass to old friends and new. I will hug my family and celebrate that I’m still here. I will try my best to appreciate each new day that I’m given. I will try my best to help others however and whenever I can.

I will think about what will happen when I die a little more often now after surviving my blood clots.

When I die, I know it will be with a clear conscience and a full heart. But that time is not now.

Now, it’s time to live.

 

 

 

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Thank You to the Friends Who Met Me After Chronic Illness

To the friends who have met me after chronic illness,

You may have met me through my kids. You may have met me in the neighborhood. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is that you met me after I became chronically ill- but you still chose to become my friend.

You weren’t put off by my disheveled looks, my wrinkled clothes, my messy house, my tired eyes, my seldom seen smiles. You didn’t judge me, look at me strangely or differently, or walk away.

You gave me a chance because you are a special person. One who can see beyond appearances and chaos, and focus on what is important.

People. Helping others. Being a good person and friend.

You met me after Lyme Disease and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder took over part of my brain and made me more anxious, confused and irritable. You met me after I was recovering from surgery and going through surgical menopause. You still supported me after I learned that I had multiple pulmonary embolisms, and didn’t know whether or not I would survive. You met me when I could barely take care of my children, let alone myself.

But, you still stuck around. You still gave me a chance. You still cared no matter what.

You didn’t stop coming around when I could not even make it to the door because I was too anxious to answer it. You didn’t stop calling or texting me to see if I needed anything, even though I could never return the favor. You didn’t stop asking me to do things even though you knew that I couldn’t for quite awhile.

You helped get my young son to school each and every day so that he wouldn’t miss out on anything. You made sure he was safe and well cared for. You made sure he had fun whenever he was with you and your children. You made sure my eleven year old daughter was also okay and had what she needed to get through the many crises we faced these past 2 years.

You never complained, you were just there. Right where I needed you, right when I needed you. You never asked for anything in return.

THAT is the definition of a true friend. Helping and caring for someone and being there without any expectations or desire for a reward or returned favor. That is the definition of you.

You are selfless. You are a wonderful person. You are just what I needed, but never thought I’d find again due to my maladies.

I am very lucky that I have a great husband who helps me with everything. But it is also nice to have some good friends. Friends like you. To laugh with, to spend time with, to grow with, to become better people with.

I had almost given up hope that I would find good friends in my new home state. After my many ailments, I thought it would be impossible.

But there you were, walking slowly but surely by my side. Maybe you saw a glimmer in my eye of what I once was- active, funny and spontaneous. Maybe you got brief hints of what my personality truly is, when free from the constraints of pain and sickness.

In a world where many people are focused upon material things and influential people, you choose not to be. You can see past all of that, and get right to the heart of the matter. You were able to see what was in my heart.

I can’t begin to tell you how much you mean to me, and to my family. I can’t begin to thank you enough for how you have helped me, and for how you have accepted me and all of my limitations.

Having you around has brought some newfound joy to my life. Having you around has helped me recover. Having you around has helped me smile again.

A lot of people in their forties have to deal with at least one chronic illness. They are lucky if they have good friends around to help them adjust and get through it. But, making new friends when you have more than one debilitating condition is very difficult. It can be a very lonely time. Online support groups can be very helpful, but nothing takes the place of a nearby friend. One who is there to listen, commiserate with and to give you a hug when you need it the most.

Thank you for being my friend. I know that it can be hard sometimes because of all I am dealing with, but hopefully better health and good times are just around the corner. I look forward to sharing those times with you.

And as I struggle to fall asleep tonight, I will have a smile on my face because I know that kind people like you exist in this world.

You are just what the doctor ordered.

Poetologie ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Lose Touch with Your Good Friends

 

This weekend I heard the most awful news. A good friend of mine, who I lost touch with, is very ill with brain cancer. She has a wonderful husband and three young kids. My heart goes out to all of them now.

I haven’t spoken to her in years, I don’t have her new contact information, and I am heartbroken.

I am also wracked with guilt. I have not been a good friend. I let our relationship drift away, just like the evening tide.

It is so easy to stay in touch nowadays, especially with Facebook and text messaging. But since I made the big move from New York City to Virginia, I have been overwhelmed and chronically ill. I let my busy, messy life drown out my most important friendships. Friends that I have know since I was 17.

I am now 47 and full of regret. I am writing this story so that you don’t have to be.

I met my friend when I was 17. She went to high school with my best friend in college. She came up to visit us at SUNY Plattsburgh many times. She was always so much fun, I always looked forward to her visits. We would drink and dance at the bars, we would sing the words to Paradise City and Shower the People.

I have tears in my eyes as I recall these memories, if I could only show her the way that I feel right now.

She helped me explore my wild side, she helped me laugh when times were rough, she helped me deal with my anxiety, she always knew which diner I could go to for eggs at 3:00 in the morning.

After college she showed me the beauty of New York City. Though I grew up there, she made me appreciate it so much more. She absolutely loves the Upper West Side, and let me stay with her while I looked for a job. She always knew the best restaurants, museums and bars to go to. She took me to the opera at Lincoln Center, she went to concerts with me at Madison Square Garden, she gave me culture, she showed me how to enjoy life.

She is adventurous and loves to travel. She taught me to Rollerblade by renting me blades, and throwing me into the fire of the great Central Park Loop. She smiled and said “you can do it,” as I desperately tried not to fall, zooming down a big hill trying to avoid moms and their baby carriages. Unbelievably, I did not fall, but if I did she would be there to pick me up, just like she always did.

She is a true friend, one you rarely find. She taught me how to live, love and survive in the big city. She helped me heal after a broken relationship, and helped me celebrate at my happy wedding brunch. She sent me awesome gifts after the birth of my two children.

I remember her most hanging with me at the Bear Bar in the city, drinking bear juice, and dancing on the bar to George Michael’s Freedom. We sang “I won’t let you down” at the top of our lungs. Little did I know that I would eventually let her down.

I was there for many of her birthdays, I was there at her beautiful wedding at West Point.

I only wish I was there for her now.

I wish I had kept in touch, I wish I had sent her many cards, I wish I could talk to her now to tell her how much I love her, and how much she means to me.

But I may never get that chance, and I will regret it for the rest of my life. Please learn from my mistakes. Please let those you love- especially old friends, know how much they mean to you right now. Don’t put it off.

There was this big white dog that lived in our building on East 74th Street in Manhattan, who I called the Abominable Snow Dog. At first I feared him, but then I loved him, especially when I had a few beers in me. Do not fear what you do not know, do not be afraid to share your joy and love with others.

That’s what my good friend taught me. I am so lucky to have spent so much time with her when I was younger. I am so blessed to know her and her bountiful spirit.

Friends are so special. And whether you have one good friend or many, never take them for granted. Always put effort into these friendships, always keep in touch.

Be there for the many ups and downs of life, never let a giant wave of laziness, bitterness or distance wash away a great friendship.

My friend has the voice of an Angel, and when she sings Ave Maria she could make the most hardened soul cry.

“My lost soul turns to you, and full of repentment, humbles at your feet.”

I am so sorry that my friend is so ill. I would give anything to be able to help her. I will try to let her know. I just found out her new address and sent her flowers, I hope that she gets them. I hope they make her smile.

She is a bright light in a storm, the laughter in a dull sea, and an amazing youthful memory.

James Taylor wrote that love is sunshine. I am so grateful for all of the sunshine my friend brought to my life.

And as I sit here praying like I’ve never prayed before for my friend and her family, I will hope that she knows how much she means to all of her friends, old and new. Life in the big city would not have been the same without her. My life would not have been the same without her.

I hope that she is surrounded by the same sunshine and love that she gave to everyone she knew.

I hope she knows that her light will never diminish, and the memories will never fade away.

Do I love my friend? Would I go back and do things differently if I could?

Absofreakinlutely..

Kathy ❤

Poetologie