What has been so encouraging over the last few weeks is the realization that I may be feeling poor in health right now, but I am blessed with a wealth of caring, generous friends who are willing to drop things, projects and even their own children to help me out when I need it. Today, Michele left her own two children (10 and 15 years old, so they were ok!) at home and came to mother me for what is usually the shakiest time of day, the couple of hours of the morning when my body and my cough are trying to determine who’s going to be in charge today. Right now, by body seems to have the edge, but with just one tickle in my throat, my bronchii can suddenly spasm and launch me into a coughing fit that can cost me my breath again. At 8am, just after David had left for work, Michele appeared at the front door, looking like a Greek goddess with her shoulder length brown curls and wearing a long cotton dress finished with a metal buckle belt. I’ve known Michele for over 4 years now, despite the changes she has gone through in her own family and professional life in this time, she has always been a very thoughtful, supportive and loyal friend, vehemently reminding me of my strengths and not allowing me to undermine myself. If she compliments me on a dress I’m wearing and I mutter something like, “Oh this. Really. I’m not sure it looks quite right,” she will cut me off immediately and say, “No. Just say ‘thank you!’”
In our conversations over four years or so, either walking along the lake or at the coffee shop, or occasionally over a spontaneous bottle of wine, we have covered a lot of ground, from kids, marriage, men, poetry, art, politics, sexuality, and mid-life transitions, some subjects getting more air time than others depending on the string and timing. Since I have known her, she has gone through a divorce, lost a job and had to move house, and although I know that she has felt overwhelmed by it all on many occasions, she has never wavered in her devotion to her kids, who she is determined to bring up as good people. To her credit, they are both well rounded kids, both academically and athletically gifted and socially functional too, so her focus has paid off for them. However, just as she worries that I don’t appreciate myself enough, I have at times worried that she may have neglected herself a bit throughout her trials. Today, however, as I forced her to talk about herself as I did my breathing treatments and tried to eat, I started to sense that she is stronger and more contented than she has been in a long while. I have always admired her tall, statuesque figure and her elegant posture as she makes her way through the world. I decided to give her a light brown, flowy sweater top that would fit her frame, fullness and feminine style far better than mine. It looked perfect on her. As I hugged her goodbye and thanked her for looking after me, I hoped that her strength and confidence will continue to build in days, weeks and months to come, and that for years to come, we will be there to remind each other of how terrific we both are!