There are plenty of things in life I don’t understand. Sometimes the confusion hurts , like little cracks in your heart.
When I was first coming to terms with my MS diagnosis and filling my shrinking brain with as much information as I could find, I found a chat room on a hospital website. It was there where I found solace and information during quieter hours while the kids were at school or in bed. It was a better support group for me than any other and friendships there lasted many years. When the chat room was redesigned, it left some of us behind, unwilling to tackle the steep learning curve of its advances. One chatter asked her son to create a room for a group of us and it was there where we continued to chat and left notes for each other to keep up with each others’ very different lives while struggling with some of the same issues. Even more years later, after one chatter sadly died, it left just three of us. One found new comfort on Facebook, but the friendship between the two of us remaining was something lasting….or I hoped it was. After all, we had been building a friendship for 16 years. Sixteen years of sharing almost daily status reports about relationship struggles, medical maladies with their emotional tolls, and simple daily irritations.
Last week, I made one of a handful of phone calls to her. I appreciated her soothing voice, her attentiveness, her understanding, and I hoped I offered her the same things. But then it happened. I asked a forbidden question. It had been made clear to me before that spiritual matters were not a welcome nor permitted topic of conversation. I had accepted the rule with understanding, but always wondered why. What might have happened in her life that would build such a hard wall to keep the subject out? What hurt might she have suffered? Was she afraid or were there words she just didn’t want to hear? There were other things that were not permitted also. While I had silently agreed to the terms, sharing my own personal beliefs without reciprocation left me feeling somewhat foolish from time to time.
Our conversation had followed some emotions to the topic of death, not a light-hearted subject, and for me death and spiritual beliefs cannot be separated. I felt confused and chastised at the abrupt restatement of the rule. Our phone conversation ended, and apparently so did the friendship. I wonder, was I pushy in my confusion? And I wonder if a relationship can move forward after so long without opening up about what makes you wake up every morning. Is an apology from me expected?…and am I willing to offer one?
But those questions didn’t need answers from me. They had been answered for me by the quiet absence of my friend. One person in a chat room is lonely. The walls echo with voices that brought healing and comfort to me in many a dark time. I care about my friend and I’m thankful to her for the time and caring she invested in my life. Sixteen years is a lot of listening. If this was a friendship for a season, then it was a season we weathered with the shelter of each other for comfort.
I will think of her often. I will be concerned about her relationships with family and friends and her physical condition and her medicines and her place to live. And, whether she believes in my God or not, I will continue to pray for her because that’s what I do when I care about people. And I thank God that she was part of my life.