My husband and I live a few hours away from our relatives. Our families are supportive from afar, and that helps us, especially in hard times. Still, we’ve developed a hodgepodge group of loved ones nearby. We’ve chosen to invest in their lives and they’ve done the same for us. When I first fell ill, S and I had a set of people in mind who we thought would be there for us. It’s been surprising to see what happens to relationships when hard things happen. Many of the people we expected to help us faded out of our lives. It has been devastating to realize that sometimes tough times tear people away from each other.
I’ve struggled with loneliness as we’ve rebuilt our support system. And I’ve realized something: the presence of a loved one brings healing. I may have a high heart rate or be stuck at home, but knowing that someone cares brings me joy. I have a wall of cards and pictures in our bedroom to remind me that people care. I have to be intentional about remembering I am loved because illness doesn’t always make sense.
Some people have walked away, but others have come into our lives and brightened our days. I got a visit from co-workers in the Spring. They gave us mounds of homemade food, and I was blown away by their concern for us. Since then, they’re walked alongside me through doctors appointments, crazy symptoms, and good days. I recently met a friend of my in-laws when she showed up at my door with flowers, pizza, and a smile. She’s driven me to get blood work done and she’s listened to my long health-related stories. I know she genuinely cares. I am grateful for people who are willing to do the not-so-glamorous work of loving someone with an illness.
Friends and family: Please know that all I need from the people I love is for them to show up. You may not know all the right things to say during a phone call, but please call anyway. You can bring a casserole or a simple smile. If you send me a goofy card, just know that you’ll bring a smile to my face. Simple connection with people I love has become even more important to me, and I would be happy to hear from you!