This post on friendships and illness and grieving at Eve’s blog speaks miles for me. In this post, she speaks of friends who disappeared in her time of need, leaving a void. A void, she realized, that was ultimately within herself.
I am still angry, still hurt by this painful pulsing void in my own spirit.
I had a friend call me up a week after I’d returned from burying my mother-in-law to tell me how much she hated her. The image of her body (sans coffin, per Israeli and Jewish tradition), going straight into the ground, the screams and wailing in the air (I was told later that that was me even though I swore it was someone else), and the week of sitting shiva afterwards, in shock, was too new and too raw. I don’t remember exactly what she said, but I remember feeling horror and shock as I drove across the Bay Bridge, hearing her cold words on the cellphone. She began with her usual “I’m sorry for what happened,” and then proceeded to bitch about my mother-in-law. What could possess her to bitch about the dead like that? I did not have a perfect relationship with my mother-in-law, but in those moments, I felt a profound grief (and still do) in losing her from this world.
When I was sick and in the first steps of recovery, I had my disappointments, even though I tried to understand–what was going on? Some of my friends didn’t seem to care. And if they were dealing with personal pain, I didn’t know. Thank goodness for the friends who did come by, who did call, who did genuinely check in with me and held my hand. Several of my friends even wrote me unprompted emails of guidance and advice, emails that gave me endless comfort in knowing that what I was going through was not an entirely lonely event. Shit happens, and I will make it.
Oh, and then there’s the ridiculously fictional “Desperate Housewives” episode! I watched it with interest, seeing that this was an episode in which Lynette (suffering from cancer) asked her friends for support–what would they say or do? Gabby looked away and clammed up. She wasn’t there for Lynette. I give her credit though, she didn’t sling something back in Lynette’s face. And kudos to Lynette for staying so f*cking calm and rational and logical and telling Gabby exactly what she needed and being incredibly supportive, even though she’s staring death in the face!
But of course–by the end of the hour-long episode, Gabby had opened up and told Lynnette why she was so absent–she had her own pain (her uncle had died when she was young and she was not allowed to face her fears and cry, therefore scarring her emotionally), and was scared that Lynnette would die and she didn’t know what to say or do. Gee. Like that (behavior) is so realistic. In reality, people don’t go through about 100 years of therapy inside of 45 minutes to discover why they can’t be there for their friends and then figure out a way to open up and share and ultimately be there in support. And in reality, sick people just don’t have the energy or capacity to be so rational and calm and logical. That’s why people take care of THEM instead of the other way around.
I’ll never know why some people weren’t there for me. I only got the vibe, bottomline, that they didn’t care enough to reach out to me, or to overcome their pain and fear, or to have the bravery to tell me why they couldn’t be there.
So in the spirit of Eve’s post…I have to figure out what this void inside of me is all about. It is a big strange void, one that screams, “Lonely!” Weird. It hurts, it really really does. And I am going to take a deep dark look.