Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Retail Therapy (Everyone Has Something)

Quite often, my thoughts reflect by writing of what is actually happening around the Naturally Sweet Sisters household.  Something about this time of year, (hmmmm, could it be two little girls happened to both be diagnosed in the late fall???) causes me to remember right back to the beginning.

I have a sacred (and silly) annual girlfriend tradition.  One day, early in the holiday shopping season, my girlfriend and I head out to a local college campus craft bazaar and we shop until literally, we have no energy left.  At which point, we pick ourselves up and enjoy a cocktail and a decadent dessert and start shopping again.  This is my most fun girlfriend moment all year. 

Together, my friend and I are planning this day for 2011.  I think our tradition totals something like 15 years.  Throughout this tradition, we have brought in other dear friends and siblings, but the two of us remain the constant shopping pair.  Our friendship has been on-going since we were five and if you think that 15 years is a long time, well, I can't share with how long the friendship is.... but it is LONG my friends! I mean, we are almost 25 now. (insert snickering here).

I can tell this girlfriend of mine anything.  We grew up together and I know her family as well as my own.  She gets me in a way that very few do.  She was in my wedding and I in hers.  Our husbands are friends and our children truly adore each other.  And we love to shop.  Need I say more?

So it was no surprise five years ago, while we shopped of course, that I fell apart in tears, talking about my worries regarding youngest daughter's health.  I did not know at that point that the ultimate diagnosis would be type 1 diabetes, I only knew that something was very, very wrong. 

Let me stop right here for a moment.  This is sounding as though it is a sad story.  And maybe it once was.  This story is however, one of my great a-ha moments.

Everyone has something.

Everyone has something.

Everyone has something.

At the time, my dear friend did not have any children of her own.  So while that moment of discussion was about youngest daughter, there were also later moments of holding hands and listening to her tears from unfulfilled hopes and dreams of a having a family.

Everyone has something.

Fast forward to the following year, my dear friend listens while I grieve of our diagnosis and I in turn listen while she once again wishes for her happily-ever-after. Our pain is plenty and we lean on each other, making plans for positive life change in the New Year.  Individually, we are strong women, but together, we are invincible.

While our life path is not intersecting at all points, it is running parallel.  As friends, even though we do not walk in each other's shoes, we can certainly try them on for a time or two.

Everyone has something.

This is not to diminish in anyway, the gut-wrenching reality of dealing with type 1 diabetes.  It is though, a reminder to me, that while my pain is very real, other friends have their own burdens which should not be diminished either. 

As my girlfriend stepped up to help me through the diagnosis, I tried to return the favor.  We listened to each other and we point out the small victories... an insulin pump and a willing adoption agency.  The grief turns to laughter and before we know it, we are back at our holiday shopping, wondering if we can convince our husbands to wear matching Christmas morning PJ's?

Everyone has something.

Understanding this has become one of main my strategies of coping.  I have taught the girls this through our travels and introducing them to a wide variety of people and environments.  Sometimes, the most eye opening moments are ones that I would barely give a passing glance.  Like the day where my oldest daughter turned to me and said, "Everyone has something." Looking to see what she meant, I follow her gaze to a baby with a cleft-lip awaiting her turn at the doctor's office.  My oldest daughters eyes were shining with tears and I suddenly realized the power of seeing another child dealing with something so unthinkable to a kid blessed with no birth marks at all.

Five years from that first mind-blowing diagnosis, our family life is more stable.  Both of my daughters have been diagnosed and we have moved away from the initial shock and awe.  After a time and bit more of dashed hopes, my friend did adopt a beautiful little girl.  Her family is not yet complete and she is embarking on another life journey to bring home a second child at the end of the year. 

I will be here for her as she has been here for me.

And as we shop this year, we will marvel at how far we have come and at all of the twists and turns along our route.  We will grieve a little, we will laugh even more and we will feel whole once again.

Neither one of us will ever be alone.

Which makes me love this silly girlfriend tradition even more.


Anonymous said...

I read this with joyful tears in my eyes. Thank you for putting exactly what I was feeling into such beautiful words!
Love You Big!
See you soon!

Naturally Sweet Sisters said...

Merry Christmas dear friend! xxoo See you soon!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana said...

You have such a knack for writing, I hope that you and your bestie have a wonderful time shopping this year and sharing laughter and joy, I'll be there with you in spirit (at least for the cocktail part ;) )

BTW, its me deleting my posts, I keep hitting enter when I'm not supposed to!

Naturally Sweet Sisters said...

That is so funny! I wondered who my deleting friend was. Thank you for the well shopping wishes:) Looking forward to a fun girl's day and wishing I could bring you along with us!