Finding the Joy

You all know by now I come and go with the winds; sometimes I’m posting daily, and sometimes I go a month without writing.

I dunno. Life. What can I say?

Last week was my best friend’s birthday, so I rallied as many old gal pals as I could in her area from our sorority days, flew down to FL, and we took my BFF out for a spa day with a small brunch beforehand and a really nice dinner afterwards.

But there was more to it. My BFF Lynn’s sister has metastatic breast cancer that has engulfed her liver, and she is now in hospice care. This trip was more than a birthday celebration, it was battle cry for support.

We’ve heard it enough. Cancer sucks.

And while I cannot change the outcome for her sister, nor absorb any of the pain for my best friend, I can be there to support my best friend, give her some time away from the reality and daily grind of the situation, and allow her to be herself – not the constant emotional cornerstone of her family, as she is.

With us, she could let her guard down, find safe harbor in expressing her emotions, and simply smile and laugh. We remind her that she will not go through this grief alone. We will all be there to bring her back to the light.

IMG_3144.JPG

Because even in the crappiest of circumstances, a good friend will make you laugh. Well, at least I will. My best friend knows and accepts my dark sense of humor. She actually has one, as well. We bring out the best in each other 🙂 Besides, none of us really know how to look into a selfie and take it seriously. God love those Instafamous people who think the camera and the world loves them. We’re too goofy for that shit.

IMG_5286.JPG

Dear Lord, my family taught me laughter and even dark humor in tense situations early on. When my grandfather passed when I was in my early teens, my grandmother was distraught at the funeral and the luncheon afterwards. We sat in unbearable silence as she wept at the end of the table, and then my unapologetically funny and highly quirky uncle quips, “Mother Dear [his pet name for her], do you think they put dad in the casket feet first?” The entire family whipped our collective heads around to look at my uncle like he’d actually gone mad. Yet, my petite English grandmother wiped her nose, looked up at my uncle, and burst out laughing. Through her tears and laughter, she said, “Your dad would think that’s funny, dear.” We all started laughing, and then we spent the remainder of the lunch sharing stories about my grandfather: laughing, remembering, and actually celebrating his life. We needed that dark humor ice breaker to remind us that we were there to celebrate life.

As the gals convened as a larger group later, several people kept asking me how my BFF was doing. One gal described her as stoic the last time she’d seen her. I gave this person a curious look and said, “I don’t know that I would ever describe Lynn as stoic.” As she went on to explain herself, it boiled down to the fact that Lynn could talk about her sister without expressing tremendous emotion.

Lynn has spent her entire life in the nursing field, and she can break down symptom from patient. In short, many people have simply asked how is her sister doing at this stage in her battle against cancer. Lynn can process this as symptom. As well, this has been a long battle for her sister with many highs and lows, and there has been a deeper processing time for the entire family to digest what will inevitably happen.

Truth is, one of the reasons I gravitate to Lynn is her ability to hold herself together, even in the toughest of times; she possesses grace and tact that stave off otherwise charged situations. Yes, she allows herself moments of emotion, but they are always on her terms – she chooses the place and the people with whom she will allow herself to break down with this grief. Grace, another dear friend who flew in, and I offered to take her to the beach to do primal scream therapy with her, and she just laughed.

Me? As Mr. T used to say, I pity the fool who crosses my path on a bad or emotional day. I do not often embody the traits of grace and tact in emotionally stressful situations. Swearing and screaming? Yes. Grace and tact? Rarely… well, no.

Primal scream therapy is my friend on those days.

And this would be one of the gazillion reasons Lynn inspires me. On the surface, we’re as opposite as they might come. Even people closest to us comment on they don’t know how we ended up BFFs. We just laugh, and know that we are the yin to the other’s yang, the sweet to balance out the spice, etc, etc, etc.

I dunno. We just click. Sometimes you don’t ask questions. I simply know the gift of her as my dearest friend is one of the greater blessings I have in this life.

I told Lynn about others asking how she was doing. I had been saying she’s holding herself together well under the circumstances, but then told her I finally told someone, almost in frustration, “I dunno! I’ve never been through a a situation like this with Lynn before. How do I know how she’s going to react when her sister passes?!” Lynn looked me in the eyes and said, “I want people to know I am looking to find the joy in my daily life and to find the joy in life of being with my sister.” She said she’s chosen to look at the light.

IMG_3150.JPG

Perspective is a funny thing isn’t it?

I recently read a meme that said instead of saying, “Sorry I’m late,” shift your perspective to, “Thank you for waiting for me.” Hmmmm…

Lynn’s sister’s husband shared a card a colleague had given discussing a near death experience she’d had earlier in life. It explained that when she was experiencing near death, she saw a “light bridge” that she could cross, and on the other side were family members who’d passed before who were waiting to welcome her. Lynn read this and realized her sister will soon be greeted by much beloved family members who’d passed before, and that her sister would be welcomed and loved for eternity.

Even in the darkest moments of her family, my best friend is choosing to see the beauty, the goodness, the light. As she said, “What good does it do to dwell on the sadness.” She still has quality time that she can make moments with her sister.

And this… this is the joy she chooses and the joy she spreads. This is why Lynn is everything to me.

What did I take away from this weekend?

  1. Being human is something we need to allow our children to see. After we left Lynn’s sister’s house the night she read the card, she had a moment in the car where she broke down. They were tears of sadness, but actually somewhat tears of joy, as well, with the realization that her sister will be with beloved passed family members soon. Lynn’s children got to see this moment, and they got to see the moment where Grace and I, two dear friends of Lynn’s, simply held their mother’s hand while she gave herself a moment to grieve.
  2. We all need friends who’ll wake up at 2:34am, jump in the car, on a plane, do whatever to be there in life’s lowest of lows. Lynn’s children got to see this. After we told Lynn’s daughter what we were doing on Saturday, her response was, “I hope I have friends like that later in life.” We all hope our children find rock-solid friendships like ours.
  3. In a week that was rocked with the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, as we sat around the table having dinner and catching up with everyone, I realized several ladies needed emotional support. They didn’t ask for it, but they needed it. As someone who’s experienced depression intimately, I know people in depressions often are so shut down they can’t reach out. My friends needed to know they mattered. We all need to hear that. We all need to tell everyone who matters exactly that – you matter. I am here for you. I love you.
  4. I try to do this as often as possible, but I will follow my best friend’s lead. I will find and choose the joy in everyday life.

Find and Choose Joy.

thumbnail image credit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s