It’s amazing when you lose a parent, how your perspective on things can change so drastically. Not right away, but as you are stumbling along the grief journey, the fog starts to lift, and things are just different. Everything is a new normal when you lose someone, and your world is turned upside down. That is not unusual. For me, what I began to analyze were my friends. What did I learn? That I am one lucky person.
It began out of necessity, really during the last six weeks my dad was sick. I was spending as much time as possible on Long Island at my parents, and I had to rely on certain people to cover the kids at home. Friends, neighbors, parents of Riley’s classmates who I did not know well all pitched in. Many had the common denominator as me as having lost a parent as well, but regardless, I had a village to count on. The kids had rides, we had meals, I had support, and most of all I had the flexibility to spend as much time as I needed to be with my dad. What do people do who do not have a network like this?
There was the friend who I could text any time day/night who would respond with the best advice, a prayer, a quote, a ‘virtual hug’ – having just been where I was a few months prior. We had been friendly through rec sports over the years, and Facebook kept us up to date with current events. She reached out to me when I needed “that person” and I never would have made it without her. Now I consider her one of my closest friends, an advocate, a blessing. Losing our parents solidified what will be an eternal friendship? Yes, sad but true, and another reality I never would have imagined.
There are old friends, who no matter what, just know. They’ve been there through thick and thin, and are available at a moments notice. They can stay on the phone with you through two hours of traffic on the way home from seeing your dad, as you cry your eyes out and fight the urge to turn around and race back to him…and they can convince you can’t, that you need to get home to your kids, be a mother, but you can return tomorrow.
Sometimes you realize there are friends who need to go. The people that you thought would be there for you, and somehow were not. You thought you might receive a card, or that they would definitely come to the wake, or even stop by your house in the weeks that followed, but they have disappeared. And you realize, that this isn’t the first time they have bailed on you, and it just seals the deal. The funny thing is, it’s not sad, because you have all these other friends instead. It’s refreshing in a way.
I feel like I have such a vast network of friends surrounding me. I can only hope to reciprocate this type of kind, generous, loving friendship to my friends moving forward.
Life is short. Surround yourself with the best. Be the best. Be kind and generous. That is how my pop lived. That is what I plan to continue doing.
So as the fog lifts, and I feel the “me” coming back to life, I have to say to you all, thank you for being my friend.