Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I get it... I don't like it, but I get it...

I had known when this whole thing started 2 years ago when Mikey was diagnosed that my 2 best friends would be there no matter what. They they would put whatever feelings they had aside and be there for me. That the topic of 'kids having cancer' would be uncomfortable for them but they would be there because they were my best friends. They would let me cry and not make me talk about it until I was ready. They would take 2 minutes to call, even when they were busy, to see how Mikey's chemo day went. They would be there to go out for dinner or a quick drink on a night that I could get out even if it was last minute because they would know I needed to get out and if I could get out we should go. They would ask about Mike but not push for details until I was ready to give them because they know it takes me some 'processing time' to get it all together before I can share it. They would have 'normal' conversations with me that didn't revolve around cancer because I am still me and not just a 'cancer mom'. They have not disappointed me. They have been amazing. They have done all of that and more. For the 2 of them, I could not be more grateful.

I also had, or thought I had, quite a few really good friends when Mikey was diagnosed. They were there and they would call in the beginning but as times got tougher and the battle kept going, the calls got less frequent and their lives moved on. I wasn't the 'fun Chrissie' anymore I guess. Reality set in and Mikey's cancer wasn't going away. I was a mom of a kid with cancer and to them, that must have trumped me just being Chrissie. Or maybe my problems were so big that they felt funny complaining about theirs to me. Or since it couldn't be all about them all of the time, they couldn't handle someone else's problems being real and not self-created and dwarfing theirs. I don't really know the reasons. What I do know is that very slowly, their phone calls & e-mails were coming further apart, their text messages not as frequently, their Caring Bridge journal updates were stopped and then there were no calls, e-mails and texts.

I get it, I really do. Everyone has their own lives and problems. No one wants to talk about a sick kid. I don't mean a kid who has a cold or an ear infection but a SICK kid. A kid with cancer. Sure, you can read about it in Family Circle or Reader's Digest, but to not only know OF a kid, to know THE kid and be friends with the kid's MOM, well, I guess that's just too much for some people. They can get new jobs and new homes. They can travel and they can go out as often as they can get a babysitter. They can send their kids off to school and I have to have a teacher come in to teach my kid the Kindergarten curriculum because he is on chemo and is immuno-suppressed and he has his mediport accessed for a week at a time with tubes hanging from his chest. While these friends were moving, getting new jobs, traveling, going out to dinner and hanging out with friends I was packing an overnight bag with seasonal-appropriate clothing for the car in case of emergent hospital visits, traveling back and forth to Sloan, taking care of a newborn and an 8 year old on top of my 4 year old, giving my 4 year old chemo and learning how to administer IV meds at home and take care of his line. We lead very different lives now. I just wish that these old friends would stop coming up with excuses for not being in touch and just let it go. Please stop telling me how busy you have been and stop making excuses for not e-mailing or checking Caring Bridge, I guess you don't realize that I am sure your text messaging skills are still in tact or that I know I update Facebook with statuses about Mikey and you can read and respond to 900 other updates but those. Really, you are just making it worse. Especially when you try to publicly be a 'good friend' and personally you haven't been there for me in months.

I wish these people would realize that I'm still me. I don't need to talk about cancer every second of every day. Is it a HUGE part of my life right now? Absolutely. Does that mean I don't have other aspects to my life? Not at all. I have 2 other kids to talk about, I can still joke and laugh and be me. Every discussion I have isn't about Mikey and cancer. I guess the cancer is just too big a thing for some people. It makes me sad because these are the friends where I thought friendship trumped cancer. I guess not.

Not all of my experiences with friends have been bad, of course! Some old friends that I had lost touch with, people who were acquaintances and people who were strangers to me when Mikey was diagnosed, have become new friends. They have been blessings when I need them. They know I hate asking for help and they know I won't ask for anything but they know that I need support. They are there. They call and e-mail just to say Hi and check in on us. They text. They offer rides to Sloan. They bring meals, desserts or a bottle of wine. They offer to babysit. They just call to chat about things that are not cancer related. I appreciate them so very much and can't tell you how I have gotten through days because of them. They have become friends in every sense of the word.

The support that I have been blessed with doesn't stop with friends of mine. Our families have been AMAZING. They are worthy of a post of their own though so I won't even get into how we could not be functioning on a daily basis without them here. Knowing that so many people are praying for and thinking of Mikey and our family makes my days a little easier. People that I have met through Mikey's journey. Other cancer families. Friends of the family that I have never met. Old colleagues of mine and my family's. Members of our community that have rallied around us. Community-based groups that have been created by men and women that I went to school with ump-teen years ago. Women that I had met in Florida during our short life outside of NYC. Cancer support groups created by families who have been where we are, some of whom have suffered the horrific loss that we all fear. I know I am leaving people out, and I'm sorry but I'm on emotion overload and I hope you know that I thank you and appreciate you all.

I wish I could tell you that it doesn't hurt that those people I considered friends are not here when I need them. I can't. I can tell you that I get it. I don't like it, but I get it. I can tell you that I am cherishing my best friends and my new friends and I hope that they know how much I appreciate them.