Yesterday evening a friend texted me and asked what I was doing that night. I'm not sure what fun thing she was going to suggest because I had to text back, "Resting in bed. I have some sort of bug." (In retrospect, I think something I ate didn't agree with me, but still: no night out.)
This morning, Zoe girl woke up with a fever. She has the same cold that her brother and sister last week, but I thought she was over it on Monday. She's not. The playdate I was going to have with another friend today? Cancelled.
It's days like this that I have to fight for joy.
I can handle being benched for an evening or a playdate, but I've been down this road before, and I'm a bit scared. My body broke after Jocelyn was born, with one autoimmune disorder and then another and then crop after crop of infections as we learned that some treatments made me dangerously susceptible to opportunistic illnesses. (Those treatments and I are no longer on speaking terms, so I'm mostly healthy nowadays.)
While the autoimmune disorders aren't going anywhere, I've figured out a nice combination of dietary, lifestyle, and pharmaceutical choices that make life pretty normal. Praise God! But from not long after Jocelyn's birth in 2007 until around Robbie's first birthday in 2010, I spent three years in daily pain. Those years are a blur. It's hard to recollect much when every movement of every minute of every day hurts for more than 1,000 consecutive days. I praise God for all He taught us in those indescribably difficult years (for example, this post and this one), but my heart grieves over them sometimes. While we've found a happy place with my health stuff, I haven't figured out how to mend the friendships the painful years stole away.
That's why I'm scared.
It's hard to be friends with someone who is sick. Friends had to put up with cancelled plans and apologies and more cancelled plans and more apologies and... well, you get the picture. I can speculate at all the reasons, but the fact is that many friends gave up. Eventually, many people stopped making plans with us, and I was too scared of having to cancel again that I stopped too. Our friendship was too hard, for them and for me.
No one but Lee and God saw my lonely tears in those years.
As promised to Israel in the book of Joel, God has fulfilled the promise to "restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." We have friends, some who rode out those tough years with us, some who we've met since, and some who we knew then but know much better and more sweetly now. But...
It can be hard to be friends with someone who has a child with special needs. I know this from stories shared with me by parents from our church's Access Ministry. I'm starting to see a bit of that. For starters, as we get started with multiple days of therapy each week for Zoe, I know playdates are going to be hard to come by. I am too tired by evening to want to go out most of the time, but with driving Jocelyn to and from school (which I cherish) and getting therapy time in for Zoe, I don't know where friends will fit. Sundays are full of church activities, and most of my friends seem to do family activities on Saturdays.
I fear that I'm starting another season of life in which friends will be lost.
If we are, it is 5000% worth it. (Yes, 5000%. I never was keen on the rules of math.) Zoe is worth it. Adoption is worth it. Following God's call for our lives is worth it regardless of the cost, because He loved us first and considered us - vile sinners, though we were - to be worth suffering the cross.
But can I ask you a favor?
Would you try to ride through the stormy part with us? Would you be that community I admitted I needed in this post? Would you see through the second or fourth or eighth cancellation of plans and understand that I'm trying? Would you be willing to look past the smile on Sundays and wonder if that same smile is on my face during the lonely days in between? Would you get that I'm tired and might not be up to reaching out to you myself and extend sweet grace by picking up the phone or sending the email, even if I didn't reply to the last email or phone message?
Would you be my friend, even when it's not easy?