Thursday, 10 February 2011

Being a Friend

Being a good friend is important to me.

It’s as important as taking care of my family. But on occasions this can be a difficult balancing act, as the last couple of days have proven. And whilst these events have been both interesting if a little distracting, because my writing and associated editing tasks have been limited yet I found the experience rewarding.

Yesterday a girlfriend had a hospital appointment. It promised to be stressful, she was anxious, actually terrified that her operation had gone wrong. What she needed was reassurance, confirmation that everything was a-okay. I held her hand.

While we waited for her consult I met a lady, Eileen was 93, recovering from a stroke, her first. And she was terribly keen to get home. Her faculties were all there, she was present, lucid and talked animatedly about her husband with happiness, despite the fact he had passed away some years ago.

In our delightful conversation she told me how she had met him at dance and how they danced all their lives, they loved dancing. They were married for 59 years!

She only expressed her sadness that she had outlived all her younger siblings and she couldn’t wait for her son to come home. His life was in Australia now but he was due home any day. Eileen wanted to go home, hoping and praying that she could still cook and look after herself with out help. I had to admire her spirit!

It struck me that despite her stroke she wasn’t quite ready yet to join her husband.

Getting back to the consult, my friend's specialist is a good guy, and yes he did his best to reassure her that she would eventually make a full recovery. The salient piece of information that she had not been given prior to the operation was the anticipated recovery time: now mentioned as 12 weeks!

Just knowing this made so much difference to her expectation, the miracle cure to her problem has now been seen for what it is, a slower than planned recovery.

By contrast the previous day I met another dear friend directly after her consultant’s appointment! Because her dentist had found a nasty lump in her neck and my friend was speedily referred for tests. (She too dreaded the outcome.)

Meeting her for lunch it was obvious that her consultant’s good news was a huge relief because she was far too busy to be ill with anything that was potentially nasty, trying to run her business and raise her boys, keep house straight & her partner happy.

But she did do something unusual: She stopped, sat by the sea, had lunch and relaxed for a few hours.

You have to know my friend to understand that this was a huge shift in emphasis.

It is only now that I have had time to reflect that I can see how lucky I have been because in a short space of time I have witnessed at close hand very intimate and personal moments that as a writer are invaluable. Perhaps when I need I can draw on these memories and use them I will and so maybe my time has been well spent.

And perhaps that’s why I want to write about friends within a family drama? To attempt to other tell people’s stories for what they are, brave adventures, not ordinary but extraordinary.

I know that Eileen made a lasting impression on me with her unconquerable spirit and I only hope I can be as resilient as she is and that I will be as keen to keep on living and writing until I am 93!

Wouldn’t that be something?

No comments:

Post a comment