The one who comes in
“A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” — Grace Pulpit
I’ve written before about how isolating trouble can be. To put it bluntly, most people would rather not think about illness, disability or death unless they can’t avoid it. Those who are dealing with such issues, often for many years and even decades, will find themselves forgotten by a large share of people whom they once considered loyal friends or family. It’s a hard truth, and one nobody wants to believe, but eventually nearly every person who lives very long will experience the harsh reality of feeling abandoned when support is most needed.
The silver lining is that there are others– far fewer in number, but all the more precious for being so– who come in just when everyone else goes out. Sometimes it’s a longtime friend who becomes even closer, bonded by standing beside us through life’s most devastating moments. Surprisingly often, though, they are brand new friends who show up in the midst of our circumstances when we least expect them.
So it was that a lively lady from faraway Edmonton, Canada appeared on my blog in its very early days, offering friendly encouragement. From the very first time I followed Kelly’s Gravatar back to the lovely land of Boomdeeville, I knew there were some diamonds to be found among the rubble of disastrous circumstances Jeff and I were facing. Kelly filled my comments section with warmth and humor, my postal mail with exquisitely crafted creations, and my heart with hope. Having her visit in person for a whole week was like a dream come true.
It was a long way for her to travel, made longer by the sort of missed-flight ordeals that are only funny in retrospect. We filled the week with one merry mishap after another, dashing around DC in the rain and wandering around Dulles Airport for over an hour searching for Pauline, who had made an even longer journey from New Zealand. Despite everything (or maybe because of it) we were laughing all the way.
If you’re reading this, chances are you are in that rare group of people who came into my life just as it felt as if the whole world had left the building. Those of you who made an entry instead of an exit, or who drew closer instead of stepping back, you know who you are, and you have made it possible for me to survive thus far. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I hope you will have many steadfast friends who make sure you don’t face your trials alone. And if I’m able, I hope to be one of them.