I am writing though Lent as I discover trough these sacramental 40 day days chronicling how I am seeing Jesus in my every day life. In my world that is sacrifice because things are often over looked as messes, annoyances or thinks I would often overlook.
Today is different though. It’s a story about a friend of mine, unlikely friends but given our circumstances we were almost thrown together by the hand of God and my life is nowhere near the same without her.
Shelby and I first met when she babysat for the kids during our Tuesday morning bible study. Her mom attended and though we weren’t super close her mom felt tight enough in the group to share her prayers and struggles with the group.
When Teresa (Shelby’s mom) started sharing about the serious health troubles that Shelby was having we were all broken. Shelby was you, 15 at the time and the serious issues she was having didn’t seem fair. When she finally got her diagnoses in October of 2011 of Chiari Malformation (seeing a pattern) it seemed as though they had had relief and could moved forward. Shelby had surgery in February of 2012 and started moving forward.
When I received my Chiari diagnoses in October of 2012 my first thought was “I need to call Teresa” I knew she was the only one who was going to understand what I was going through. And I was right, she did. Answering questions, being there and most important was a support.
I needed her in a way I couldn’t understand at the time. Even though she was going through her own rough period she gave me what she could of herself and that meant more than anything else.
The week of my surgery she sent her older daughter Morgan over to clean, take care of me, of Abigail and get some last minute stuff done. My surgery was on a Thursday afternoon so Wednesday night Morgan (shelby’s sister) and Shelby picked me us up, dropped Abigail at her friends, took me for coffee and then home to get the rest of my stuff packed. And then they spent time with me; I think that was also the night that we tried to make whipped cream from coconut milk in the blender.
That was a no go.
But spending the night before major surgery with people who love me meant the world to me.
Shelby came to see me in the hospital. Not that I remember anything other than her mom telling me to set my alarm for every eight minutes so I could hit my magic morphine button and the both of them trying to fluff my pillows.
Our relationship really began outside the hospital. It grew as we spent more time together and shared our similar yet vastly different Chiari stories. She has no ongoing lingering problems. I do. But the comfort that her words provide, even though she cannot fully grasp the ongoing effects of having lingering issues is huge.
She is quite a bit younger than me. She just turned 19 and I will be 33 in June so I consider her a little sister which is not a role I take lightly. I am incredibly protective of her and in some ways feel like I am responsible for helping her break out of her home school, naïve shell. Which I know she is not as naïve as some other homeschooled kids but I love her and I don’t want to her to get hurt.
We were at breakfast last Friday and she looked over at me and said “I am really glad that you are in my life Bethany, I mean it”
I don’t have many people that say things like that to me and mean it. I took it in my heart and allowed to ruminate. It felt like a truth I could absorb and I did.
Shelby and I have a special, sacred type relationship. Like sisters but more. There is that level of intimacy that is there that would be with siblings but we have also gone through the same traumatic experience and not many people can understand that.
I can try and talk about my surgery with my friends, whom I do but because they haven’t been there they can only understand a depth that Shelby cannot. I have developed such a deep, protective and sisterly love for this girl. We know how to finish each other’s sentences, she comes over in the morning with biscuits and stays with me at the bus stop so I won’t have to face a person I don’t want to and she lets me borrow her car.
There are so many things over the course of two and a half years that I have learned about friendship and this is one of them. Friendship and relationship and can be both beautiful and detrimental to a person. It takes two people to have a friendship and that is not something I knew until I got sick. My relationship with Shelby is 100% give and take and that is what I noticed yesterday.
She let me borrow her car. Mine is broken down, well not so much broken down as it is it died and sold. I needed a car so I could get to therapy and a couple other things I needed to do yesterday. As I drove away from dropping her off at work I was struck by the value in our friendship. By the love relationship that has grown between two unlikely people. Yet here we are, my little sister and I and I couldn’t love the girl more if we were blood related.