I have woken up this morning to an email from my friend in the USA who has cancer and was giving all of her friends an update on how she is feeling and how her treatment is going. She sounds so brave at taking it all in her stride and so grateful for all the love and support that she is receiving from her family, friends and the medical staff. This email made me cry and made me glad that I am going to visit, to support her face to face, in just ten days time. Today is her 50th birthday and so she was going to be on my mind today very much already.
She sounds delighted that she is surrounded by helpful, supportive, caring people during this difficult time, but isn’t that the very least that she should expect. I have often experienced real kindness when we have needed it, mainly when Joshua has been unwell and in hospital .Human kindness can make the unbearable, bearable and often you have an opportunity to repay the debt as we each take a turn of needing support, then giving it in return.
I used to think that were some lucky people that had perfect lives, who had no worries at all and they just glided through life while the rest of us struggled on. But now I am older and wiser, I realise that nobody goes through life unscathed. We all have demons to face, difficult challenges to master and obstacles to overcome.Nobody’s life is an eternal picnic, with endless supplies of cake and cheese and pickle sandwiches. Our lives since Joshua have been like a rollerocaster ride : he has good spells, then just as we are getting comfortable with that status quo, something will go wrong and we slide downhill rapidly, then it is a matter of crawling back up out of the dip. That recovery is so much easier and faster to make if you do not feel alone, rather that we have encouraging cheerleaders shouting from the sidelines.
Most children progress in a linear fashion: they achieve a skill or learn something and then it can be ticked off the list as it has been mastered. Joshua’s development is more hit and miss than that. He has good days when he is focussed and vocal, he uses lots of words and he is mobile too, wandering around independently. Then on other days he is just so sleepy that he hardly wants to move or eat, let alone talk – it is as though everything is too much trouble. I think of him as Jekyll and Hyde as he has such different personalities on those days, but he knows that he is much loved whatever kind of day he is having.
So on 15 May, I send my first best friend birthday wishes and a promise that I will see her soon.