Monday, June 11, 2007

Dos and Don'ts

After rereading my article from ten years ago, I realize that my circle of friends could be the source for a "Things to Do" article.

As the article hinted, I think it's important for friends to find a way in which they feel comfortable in showing their love and support. Many of you do this through your comments on this blog. I read and reread the comments, present and past, and marvel at the sense of caring, connection and community they create.

But that doesn't mean that non-comment leavers are any less supportive. I have many close friends who feel uncomfortable with the public forum and show their support in other ways.

I receive frequent phone calls, emails and cards. I've been on the receiving end of flowers, scarves, hats, books, feather boas and other thoughtful gifts. Many friends have visited me in the hospital and brought newspapers, magazines or treats. One friend walks with me on a regular basis, even though my low hemoglobin counts mean that I frequently need to stop for breath breaks. Another friend drives a long distance to join me for yoga classes. I'm able to drive myself to CoH appointments 90% of the time, but I'm glad that I have a long list of friends I can count on when I need transportation.

Since I wrote about the potato balls at Porto's Bakery, I've received three "care packages" from friends who just happened to be in the area. (Hmmmm, maybe I need to blog about the lobster at the Palm.) Other friends have made and dropped off extra batches of food for our family. Even though I'm able to cook on most days, it's always a treat to have something ready made, particularly at lunch time. It's especially comforting to know that I have some nutritious soup in the freezer on the two guaranteed "off" days after I check out of Hotel Hope.

As some of you read this, you are, no doubt, feeling guilt. You might be thinking, "I could do more" or "I should do more" or "I wish I could do more." This prompts the one "don't" on my list: "Don't feel guilty!" I am the first to realize how busy our lives are. When I wrote the LA Times article, I was in a position to be actively involved in two friends' lives. But I carry a lot of guilt for not "being there" for other friends in need because my own life was in chaos or turmoil at the time.

The LA Times article makes reference to the "cook club" that a neighbor organized for our friend Mary Ann. We all thought that a meal a week was a very realistic way that we could support Mary Ann and her family. We kept up the cook club for nearly a year, continuing for several months after Mary Ann's death. At first, we all took great care in the preparation and presentation of food, but, over time, the hectic nature of our daily lives made it a challenge. I often felt that I was neglecting my own family. ("No, you can't have that; it's for Mary Ann's family.") Sometimes when my designated day rolled around, I realized that I'd failed to prepare a meal and made a mad dash for take-out food. The lesson I learned is that it's imperative to support someone in a way that fits in easily with your own life. That's not being selfish; that's being realistic.

I send hugs to all of you who have shown your love and support in so many caring ways, along with the admonishment to let go of guilt.

2 comments:

SAMO Calling said...

Susan -
...with over 400 hits on your site, I'd say that's a awful lot of "Dos". Your post is, as always, a good read with thoughtfulness and consideration for your team. Thank you.

Suzy Keleher said...

Amazing words, Susan...WISDOM...no less. Keep visualizing about those platelets and blood counts. Krista thanks you for the mochi connection. We all thank you for the love, peace and healing connection. As always, Love and Prayers, Suze