Monday run day. I am moving fast today. Lots to do. I started out on a walk that turned into a run, which is a good metaphor for the way this day is going.
In the course of walking and running, I mostly avoided roads with traffic, and took the routes of humanly constructed nature: the path by the brook to the loop around a big soccer field. Of course asphalt loops and soccer fields, like fields of any kind–are not real nature, but they beat concrete and battling with cars for a corner of pavement. I have discovered my best path out of the house, without using my car, while spending the least amount of time crossing streets or in any way thinking about cars and traffic.
I am not a runner. My idea of why to run is to chase a ball or a kid. But I find myself not exactly out of shape, but not in the best shape for the upcoming ski season, and life in general, so am adding running (yes, jogging, but hasn’t that word been retired?) back into my routine as much as overused soccer knees will allow.
Do you remember wearing a winter coat when you were little? Not a ski jacket, but a coat, for occasions when your parent decided that you should look “cute” or be dressed up a bit? I do. Mine was red, with big red buttons, and my arms didn’t move that well in it. I felt repressed when wearing it. The pictures confirm that I did look cute, but from the inside, it did not feel good. Today’s run was unplanned, so though dressed in yoga pants and running shoes, I was also wearing a wool coat on top. When I arrived at the loop and saw other people running, and not in long, graceful sinuous motion, either, I decided that I didn’t care what I was wearing: today I would start to add running back into my non-runner’s workout routine. Of course, I happened to pick the coldest morning of the year thus far to start my running program. But it is so much easier to just do something spontaneously, even without every detail in place, than to plan so carefully that I set up mental roadblocks. The running program and the renewed commitment to being outside, but away from traffic are separate, and consistent. So, whether the knee with big staples from a 15-year-old ACL reconstruction, or the knee without object too much for me to do this often, I will resignedly keep walking.
Today my path will lead to a place I both do, and do not, want to go. It is not the physical place about which I have mixed emotions. The story is not mine to tell, and no online source is truly anonymous, but in brief: I will be visiting a very close friend today. One of my friend’s two children, not a young child, but a young person, is very ill. Will I provide comfort? Will we be able to meet, enjoy ourselves, reminisce, without making devastating illness the focus of our afternoon, or is that a ridiculous proposition.
Please, any of you who has a child who is ill, or a close friend with a child who is ill, provide me with guidance. Illness is never so devastating as when it strikes the “wrong” generation of a family. The young person may be present, or be off enjoying time with other family members. “How are you doing?”, a most common of English phrases, takes on a weight and unintended meaning in a situation like this one. And there is the discomfort that comes with knowing that I am as susceptible to this, or any other scourge, as the next person. But this is not about me. It is not about illness. It is about meeting a close friend of many years face-to-face and heart-to-heart. May my heart lead me. Only intuition, or guidance from a source greater than myself, and not rehearsed dialogue can help me to be the person I need to be today. I will keep my ears, eyes, and all senses wide open, and I will know what my friend needs from his old friend. Please hold me in the light this afternoon.
The only thing you could do wrong is NOT to go – because it might be difficult – for you!
It is amazing how many people will not visit my mother because she doesn’t recognize them, haven’t visited someone who was a dear friend – and who taught me by example how to be a friend to someone who is dying of cancer and in the hospital. I hold these people in much lower esteem because of that: they care more about themselves and their momentary discomfort than they care about their friend. Grow up!
All you can do sometimes is to listen – and not add inane comments. And follow the lead of the person who needs the support – if you let them they will tell you what they need by what they choose to talk about. People worry too much about themselves, and it makes them nervous, and they say stupid things. This is a bad habit – and can be unlearned.
I have thanked God many times that it is me who is sick, and not one of my kids – for the very reason you state: I can bear this better than I could if it were one of them. I don’t try to bargain with God – I’m not Tevye or Lot. I just try to do the best I can with what I have – it’s HIs problem what I get to deal with, and I can live with that.
May you be a comfort to your friend.
Than you. It was wonderful to see him. He is still himself in every way…except. That’s one of the main things to remember. And I agree. Be honored to be considered worthy of seeing a person & a family in a tragic, yet loving, situation. It means they feel close or feel you have some small thing to share.