Yesterday I was having a chat with my husband about something we've discussed many times in the past (almost) 11 months - relationships we've lost along this journey. I touched a little on this topic in this post, but there was a lot more I wanted and felt like I needed to say about that topic.
June 2011 defined what it meant to be a "good" friend and a "good" family member to me. During this month, Jonathan and I went through the hardest thing we'd ever endured. We watched our son's health decline everyday. We watched him nearly pass away on 5 separate occasions. We watched him be wheeled into an OR knowing his heart was about to be stopped and his chest cracked open. That was real. It was deep and believe me when I say they were the defining moments of my life. We were scared and we were clinging to hope that our son would make it to and through the surgery that would ultimately save his life. A great deal of our family was there - my mom, dad, my in-laws, sister, brother, sister-in-law, grandparents, etc. But there were many who weren't. Many friends and family members never bothered to email or call. They made no attempt to see how Lukas was doing before, during, or after his operation.
Honestly, it was heartbreaking. It was immensely disappointing and heart wrenching that family members and friends who promised to be there every step of the way just seemed to disappear. Jonathan and I would post things on Facebook, I would send group emails to friends and family members. Some would respond and some turned a cold shoulder. It was hurtful. Painful.
I will say that some relationships diminished well before Lukas' birth. People who attempted to minimize the situation by saying things like "well, at least its fixable." As if it were okay for my son to be born with one the seven critical heart defects because hey, it was fixable. Right? Wrong. Believe me when I say I am unbelievably grateful Lukas' defect was able to be repaired, but its not so simple. His situation isn't so cut and dry. His defect means a lifetime of cardiac care. A lifetime of repeat open heart operations. It means he won't get to do some of the things that Riley and Hayden can. It means we almost lost him before his operation because his defect reached a critical point where it required emergency care or we would have been burying our son. That's real. That's not a small thing. Not to me. That comment always seemed so disrespectful and insensitive to me. Almost callous and uncaring. And I can't count how many times I heard it before Lukas' birth and while he was in the NICU awaiting his operation.
And then there were the individuals who said they knew how I felt. Trust me, you don't. Unless you've walked in those shoes and have been down that road yourself, you have absolutely no idea. I had one "friend" who actually compared our situation to when they lost their dog at 10-years old. Everytime someone said "I know exactly how you feel" I can't tell you how angry I'd get. I'm a pretty level headed person. I don't get angry easily and I certainly don't lose my temper. But hearing those words would send me into a fit of rage. Most of the time, I tried to smile and walk away because I knew if I heard another word I was going to lose it. I had enough on my mind. I was stressed enough and I knew blowing up would just add to that stress. I didn't need it and neither did Lukas. It was just another one of those things that was very impervious and nonchalant. And hurtful.
These things showed me the true value and meaning of relationships. They solidified relationships with my family and friends who were by my side every moment. Who were there. These individuals carried me through a time when I wanted to give up. When I thought it was too painful to continue, they helped ease that pain. They kept me strong so I could be strong for my baby. Their presence helped mend a heart that was truly breaking. They were there through the tears. They were there through the pain and the fear. They never walked away or became disinterested. And for that, they will never know the gratitude I feel in my heart. There are not words fit enough to describe that love. These individuals, and they know who they are, showed me the true meaning of unconditional love.
And to the friends and family that weren't; well, its just part of the collateral damage that comes along with such a situation. Relationships come and go and ones that are meant to have a lasting impact on your life never fade. Those that aren't - do. Its just a fact of life, especially when situations like this arise. I blamed myself a lot at first. Wondering what I did wrong. Why didn't these people care? Why didn't they care about me and why didn't they care about my baby? Had I said or done something? That blame quickly dissipated. Those who wanted to put in the effort did. Those who didn't - well, didn't. Plain and simple.
Annamarie Saarinen, the founder of the organization 1in100 and a beautiful friend wrote an incredibly thought provoking article entitled "Collateral Damage" over this very topic. I encourage you to read it. It cuts straight to the heart of this matter.
And for those just starting on this journey - its a sad truth that relationships will diminish because of it. While it is sad, know that those who are there will make all the others a distant memory. With time, those scars fade. I promise.
Happy Monday friends. Hope your weekends were filled with beautiful things =)