Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fine - Guest post written by Kendra Vander Linden

If I just cling to these times a little tighter, if I just love her a little more, if I just push her to do a few extra treatments, remind her to slow down, she’ll be fine. She’ll be fine. I have no idea how many times I have said these or similar thoughts to myself. How many times I have tried to convince myself that I can control CF and its hold on Ashley’s life and our relationship, even if no one else can.

Ashley and I fell into each other’s lives in a hodge-podge of Augie experiences. I also married her cousin so now I get to call her family as well. She has always been more than a friend to me; she’s more like my sister. We can talk about anything, hot glue and craft together, and share a love for sushi and Disney movies like no one else I know.

In the past few years, our relationship has changed. It’s harder.  And it’s because of CF. We are now moving through life stages that don’t match. It was so easy when CF was a distant onlooker, present but never too personal. We got married and graduated college around the same time, started jobs, went out at night, laughed, and vacationed together. Even when Andy and I moved to Minnesota we kept our spontaneous and easy friendship full of trips and experiences.

Then CF reared it’s ugly head for the first real time in my relationship with Ashley. Life got messier. She was so open and honest with me about what CF was like, sharing her medications, treatments, the pain of getting out of bed in the morning. Even though life was messier, she let me into her world. I clung to our relationship even more. She’ll be fine.
Soon after, Andy and I found out we were expecting our first baby. I was so nervous to tell Ashley. I knew she would be so excited, but this was a life stage we couldn’t enter together, as most friends long to. As I told her, I knew she could see the guilt and pain in my eyes, just as I could see the pain and “what if” in hers. Life got messier, and I tried to let her into my world they way she had shown me. She celebrated the joys and took part in my struggles the same way she let me with hers. Ashley and Mark are Ruby’s Godparents, and watching them love her and seeing Ruby run to our window yelling, “Ashy, Mark, wha-AH-YOU?” fills my heart with so much joy and pride. I love the relationship they share. Even then, I can feel CF looming. I sternly convince myself, she’ll be fine.

In the past year and a half, I have become so incredibly selfish with Ashley. As CF continues to make itself more intimately known, I long for the days when it was a distant onlooker. Doesn’t CF know I NEED ASHLEY? Every time I would try to think about the harsh realities of the future, I’d cling tighter. I want more time. I want more Ashley. I struggled with the thought of the future. I pleaded with God for a cure. For Ashley to be the exception to CF’s selfish truth. When Ashley was admitted to the U of M, I knew she wouldn’t want visitors. I can respect that. Who wants to see healthy people and make small talk when you feel awful? So when she asked me to come, I went as soon as I could. She’ll be fine.

Talking with her that day, crying with her, meeting her doctors, and seeing her treatments was so terrifyingly beautiful. Watching my friend handle this life with such grace, strength, and dignity was amazing. I on the other hand, bawled like a baby my whole way home. But something changed for me that day.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”              -Hermann Hesse

It’s in the moments where I step back and think about Ashley and our relationship when I can let go and let myself admit, she won’t be fine. At least not in the everyday sense of the word fine.  Who wants to be fine anyway? Ashley takes more out of everyday and touches more people’s lives than I ever could. She reminds me to get the most out of everything and to be thankful for every experience, good or bad, because it shapes who you are. Letting go of my expectations for our relationship and the future means I can enjoy and love Ashley even more.
I was wrong. Our relationship isn’t harder. It’s more raw, honest, and full of love than anything. It’s real, and I cannot wait to see how it grows. Take that CF.

1 comment:

  1. This is the most moving piece I have ever read on Friendship. Wow.