That changed over the next many months.
Going through a prolonged, intense, public ordeal would prove to be like running a marathon. Some people showed up for me at the starting line. A few would join for stretches in the middle. Very, very few would run the whole course by my side.
I was deeply wounded by the disappearance of many people I had thought to be true friends. I have been deeply touched by the people I hadn’t known much at all who stepped forward with love, kindness and support. But the ones who changed my life were those that are running the whole course with me. These are the friends, family and colleagues who didn’t shy away from the starting gun, were gently there to pick me up when I stumbled and fell midway through and who will be there at the finish, whatever and whenever that might be. They are precious and priceless.
I did not realize how much I needed people that stick until faced with a situation in which so many people fled from me. I didn’t realize how much I needed people period. I like more alone time than anybody I know so I was very surprised how much it hurt to be isolated from former friends and colleagues. I wondered if the fickleness was just human nature or, was it because I hadn’t done enough to build friendships, always making that a far lower priority than my work.
My sticky people loved me through some of the hardest experiences of my life. They were a refuge. They fed my body, carrying homemade meals to my front door without saying a word because they knew I was grieving and wanted to be alone. They fed my spirit, listening to me, gently counseling me, affirming my value in moments when I questioned whether I had any. They will probably never fully understand how much their unflagging support meant/ means to me.
I will never take these beautiful relationships for granted again. I vow to be a better friend and to offer to my true friends what they have given me:
- Reaching out proactively when we haven’t heard from one another in a while just to see how they’re doing and let them know I care.
- Listening, deeply, to your joys or sorrows with an open heart and patience.
- Being fully present, not distracted, when I am with you.
- Being there to help shore you up when others are unkind.
- Putting you first, no matter what I am working on, when you have an urgent need that I can help with.
- I’m a pretty bad cook so I won’t promise homemade meals but I will go get you take-out!
- Sticking with you when life itself becomes a bit of a sticky mess.
To my sticky people, thank you. I hope you know how much I appreciate you.
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