Coming back together
Sunday August 30th 2009, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

As our family started praying for my sister-in-law, whose breast biopsy came back positive a few days ago, I got another message.

One of the wonders of the Internet is how easy it is to reconnect with people whom you knew back when.

One of the wonders of continuing to be alive on this planet is learning how, when you once care about another human being, however much, wherever they may go forth to in this life, you wish them well in it all. And that that never stops. Ever.  The caring only grows more important, even when it takes you by surprise because you simply hadn’t had occasion to think of the person in years. But they matter, and they always will.

I spend very little time at Facebook: this is where the bandwidth real estate is my own.  And yet, forgotten password or no, somehow one old friend after another showed up and there it was.

And so I got asked today by another Churchill grad, someone I’d known since elementary, how life was now.  It stumped me. How was hers, too?  How on earth does one sum up 18-50? Got married, had kids, and in my case, wrote a book?  If you add up my four kids’ ages, that’s 96 Mom-years; that could get a little wordy. By mentioning having systemic lupus and Crohn’s both? Nah, that’s just the background noise. Tell her to read this entire blog back to front?  (Spare her!)

It may not have been the best answer, but I responded saying I’d always wanted to be a writer; published now and off to a good start. And then it seemed the best way to sum up the whole rest of everything else was simply to link to the story of the man with that Stanford Blood Center t-shirt on.  The everyday trip to the store.  And yet.

The context that had brought us together was the group “Pray for Chuck Heidel,”  a tall kid who’d teased me in junior high math class but a kid who by late high school had transformed into the downright decent, good person he’d been all along, as most kids do. He’d been a member of a champion football team that had included Brian Holloway and Jeff Kemp: I was by no means part of the jock scene, but we had a crop of decent people among ours that defied stereotypes.  One of them, I said to at the 20th reunion, “I don’t remember much about you: but I remember that you were always a friend to anyone.”

Chuck was recently in a bike accident and was airlifted to the U of MD Trauma Center.  Unconscious.  Paralysis. Blood clots. Intubation.  As I read the reports of what he’d been enduring since then, I kept thinking, I had that in January. I went through that in February. I had that three weeks ago.  Part of me wanted to tell his family that his voice will sound normal within two weeks because he didn’t try to talk while he had that tube down his throat–he was unconscious then. Part of me wants to make jokes about hospital food while jumping up and down that he can swallow again. And he lifted a glass to his lips!

There was his daughter’s awe at her father’s example of asking the family to gather round him to pray for the patient next door, in worse shape than he.

And that, I could tell her as a patient, is how one copes. By finding a way to bring forward the best in oneself, the faith if we have faith, our goodwill in all circumstances, looking for any way of serving those around us in order not to have the bodily damage hog all the attention.

Because the love never stops. The caring never ends. It only grows with each new experience.

14 Comments so far
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As we get older, if we are lucky or blessed, the love just goes deeper and spreads farther. I began to notice this when my third grandchild was born. My best friend from when the girls were little, found me through one of them on Facebook. I am still resisting Facebook.

I will not ask you if your sister-in-law is the one I know; I will email her separately. I’ve already sent up a prayer for Dear Sister Whomever. Please keep me posted.

Comment by Lynn 08.30.09 @ 8:08 pm

I’ll add a prayer to yours!

I’m learning, trying to walk in my grandmother’s footsteps, that love is richer when it’s hard to give. Not that I try to get into such situations of course… But it’s been my case for the last 2 years or so, and once the anger and the sadness fade away, I’m surprised to witness the love and the caring expand.

I like how you say that your health problems of recent times are background noise when the time comes to choose what to tell a long lost friend about your life. I’m trying to think what I would answer to such a question, go to the melody of my life rather than give more room to the wrong notes or the off key instrument.

Thank you for suggesting the exercice! 🙂

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 08.31.09 @ 5:35 am

My grown children have convinced me to join Facebook but so far no one from my childhood has reached out to say hi, just friends from my recent years in upstate NY and friends of my children. Your sister-in-law is added to my prayer list. Strength and comfort coming her way! And yours as well!

Comment by Jody M 08.31.09 @ 5:47 am

Love and caring are like an ever-flowing fountain. The more you have, the more you give away. It just works like that.

Comment by ruth 08.31.09 @ 5:53 am

Hugs and prayers coming your way. Yes, I know you’ll be fine…but your friends need to care for you.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 08.31.09 @ 6:10 am

Caring causes pain. Simple fact. It also brings us the greatest connection and joy, and the courage to keep adding one more person to the list of those we care for.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 08.31.09 @ 7:21 am

what a great reminder that the more love we give away the more we have

Comment by Bev 08.31.09 @ 7:53 am

Your words bring tears to my eyes. Love does indeed get us through… Chuck is a great guy that I remember from church and high school. His faith and family will be so important in his recovery. 🙂
It is amazing what one can get through, isn’t it?

Comment by Bev 08.31.09 @ 8:09 am

Prayers have been offered, and I’ll continue to do so. Sometimes, it’s hard to choose to be grateful and positive, even to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, but that’s what works for me.

Comment by Channon 08.31.09 @ 10:12 am

My prayers are with your SIL & family. Words seem so inadequate in such situations. So on the them of love I will leave you with my favorite Katherine Hepburn quote – “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving.”

Comment by TripletMom 08.31.09 @ 11:56 am

In addition to all of the above comments, let me just add that a positive attitude, such as yours, goes a long way toward healing.

And so does laughter —

Tech Support: “OK. At the bottom left hand side of your screen, can you see the ‘OK’ button displayed?”
Customer: “Wow! How can you see my screen from there?”

Comment by Don Meyer 08.31.09 @ 1:32 pm

I have no idea why this post didn’t show up in my feeds until now. I swear I checked!
Adding my prayers to yours for your SIL. And everyone else, too.

Comment by karin maag-tanchak 09.01.09 @ 6:16 am

Beautiful post and beautiful sentiments.

And I am so using the mom-years concept. I only have 50 of them myself. I do mention to friends that my husband and I have been married 58 years, 29 each.

Comment by twinsetellen 09.05.09 @ 5:16 am

Alison, I marvel at the connections possible through the internet! I am one of Chuck Heidel’s daughters. My friend Lenora, a knitter, follows your blog and sent me the link when she read this. I constantly marvel at what far corners (of the earth and the internet!) our story is reaching, and how much love there is for my dad from people who’ve been part of different stages of his life. Thank you for your encouragement, for sharing what you learned through your experiences…Sometimes, when we start to feel very alone and wonder what the next day will bring, it’s so good to know that there are others who’ve gone ahead of us on a similar journey, and who can now go beside us and tell us that all will be well. If you don’t mind, I’ll share your post with my Dad. I think it will really mean a lot to him.
-Ginny Heidel

Comment by Ginny 10.02.09 @ 6:01 am

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