Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What Can You Do For Me?

I imagine that most people that suffer with something everyday are not always in the best mood I have many friends that deal with illness, abuse, depression and just a feeling of not being well. It can be so hard to understand what people need when they are dealing with any issues that alter their lives or change their view and outlook on life. I wish that I could give you all the answers and tell you that there is a magic sentence that makes us feel better or a particular conversation that we need to have. The truth is, we aren't sure how to feel better a majority of the time. We are so consumed with the changes that we struggle with how "normal" we will ever be again. Not to mention how we feel around you and we think you may feel when you are around us.

I remember before I was diagnosed with RA and MS, I had a friend that was dealing with cancer. I never knew what to say to her, ever. We would talk all the time and I would visit. It seemed like a great deal of our time was quiet. I just did not get what was appropriate for me to say to her. So one day we were sitting in her living room and she had just had chemo. I looked at her and I thought, "she knows that she is sick," so I don't need to remind her of that." That means I didn't need to ask her how was chemo or how was she feeling. It was obvious chemo sucked and she felt terrible. I finally just asked her, "Yolanda, what can I do to help you?" She didn't respond at first. She just stared out the window. So I moved closer to her. I wanted to make sure she knew that it was not a rhetorical question. I gave her a few minutes and then I said, "What do you need?" She looked at me and began crying. I started to cry too.

Her response shocked me but it made so much sense! She said, "Do you love me?" I said, "of course I love you." She held my hand and said, "That's what you can do." I sat there for a minute because I was wanting to ask her what she meant but she spoke again. She wiped her face and smiled. "When we are together, let's talk about life. I don't want to talk about chemo or cancer or death, I just want to hear how you are and the kids are and what is going on with the people I love/" I smiled and hugged her. "I can do that," I said. She responded, "Val, I know I have cancer and I know that it is possible that I may not make it so I want to have days filled with laughter and gossip and fun." "I want to look at my bald head and laugh at it because you joked about it and I want to feel like my bad days are few." I wasn't really surprised by that. I had been really ill years before and almost died from Congestive Heart failure. I remember always wanting to look good and be happy when people came to visit. I wanted to enjoy them. Because when the visits are over I am left with just my thoughts and all the possibilities of how bad my situation could get. I wanted to enjoy as much as I could.

So when she said that to me I GOT IT!!! My friend Yolanda kicked cancer in the tail! She survived and she is a champion. As I became ill with MS and RA, guess who came to cheer me up? There were days when I wanted to vent and I was very agitated. She allowed me to do that and then she made a joke or hugged me. Reminding me that even after my vent, my life was not over. And that we were still capable of having fun and enjoying life.

I have many friends and relatives that do not call or come to see me. They are afraid and they do not get it. See we think that a sick person is going to look a certain way or be miserable. We want to know that you love us and that you still enjoy our company. We aren't inviting anyone to a pity party. We have those all by ourselves. We want to LIVE LIFE, maybe differently than before but still living and enjoying and celebrating all the things we did before illness or diagnosis. We are going to have bad days. But you know what, so are you! Everyone has the ups and downs whether they are ill or not. We have illness but we are not illness.

If you want to visit or talk, go ahead and reach out!!! You may change our day or our mood. You may show up just when we are feeling down. We still love and want to be loved. So if the question is
sincerely, "What can I do for you?" The answer is easy. You can love me, support me, enjoy me, remind me of the good and hug me when I am sad. Whatever you do, don't ignore me or lie to me about why you don't visit or call. Your honesty speaks volumes to how much you care.

Most people fighting illness and loss are strong people, but that doesn't mean we don't have weak days. Those are the days that your smile and your happiness and your laughter can infect us.  Don't be afraid to give it to us!!!!! It's the best thing you can do for us.


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