12/17/10 Through the Years We’ll Always Be Together

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for taking the time during this hectic season to read our blog. I’m so touched by your interest.

I hope you’ve been in good health and enjoying the wet and cold weather. I’m sitting here in the middle of the day, in my robe, with the rain pouring outside. I am looking at the pile of Christmas cards I’ve yet to tackle and decided to blog instead, after way too long. It’s funny, this is a season where we create our own busy-ness, making up stuff to do that isn’t really necessary. I’ve baked fruitcake, made fudge and granola, and gone shopping, wrapped a few gifts, put up the tree and lights, and it’s all just for pleasure.  Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it feels like a drag.

Another Christmas season is before us. I am still trying to let out a sigh, after such a hectic year. I need this slow time, a time when I don’t have much to report at all. The gift is that my health is good, and whatever issues I have I find too boring to even mention. I am burned out on writing about medical symptoms and management, so it’s not my focus here.

The holidays bring me to a place of sadness more than cheer. I’ve been to multiple parties and have eaten way too much sugar, and have enjoyed being with friends. But I carry a weight around. I actually hate that song with the line, “Through the years we’ll always be together,” because, well, it’s just not true. So why pretend it’s true? Two friends passed away in the last week. Both were 8-9 years post-lung transplant and were some of the ‘sisters’ who showed me the way. They were extraordinary people and it was a joy to know them during this time. I am sure their families are struggling this holiday without them. It is so unfair and sad, and yet so normal, this cycle of life, this transition from gain to loss, gain to loss that happens in the transplant world and in the real world too.

And today, December 17, 2010, marks the 20th year that my childhood best friend Karen died of CF. I have lived 20 more years than she did, and she was truly just a kid at 19 when she died. I’m a middle aged adult, yet her mark on my life and this date continue to have a strong imprint. I wonder what she’d be like, now. Her sister and maybe even her brother have died too, and I don’t know where her mother is. So she’s really just a thought now, or more of a feeling, that brings me back to a time of innocence. All that mattered to me when I was a teenager was that I was truly loved and understood by one friend, and she provided that for 8 years.

Several of my other friends are still struggling healthwise. I have too many friends under 30 to visit in the intermediate ICU. It can take a real toll, to be in this illness community, as I am surrounded by suffering. It’s not an easy place to be. I find myself pacing out my visits, so I can take care of my own spirit and retain my own level of hope and energy that I need to live the best, healthiest years of my life. I am healthy for now, going to boot camp classes and active from morning to night; yet my mind and social life seem wrapped up in the sickness of these friends. Many people might turn around and walk away, wanting to be free from reminders of illness and the horrible ‘what-ifs’ when you have a lung transplant. Somehow I can’t extricate myself from caring about these friends. Because it’s all about love. But I need healthy boundaries to remember that I’m a witness and a support to these friends, but I can’t take on or carry their suffering or else it will bog me down. Maybe it’s just selfish, me wishing someday that someone else would be there for me when I’m in their predicament….

So, tonight I host an intimate party for some dear friends, who lost their daughter in an accident and she saved lives through organ donation. Their daughter is gone, but this friendship has been created because of it. We will share memories together tonight, amidst great Japanese food. Such are the losses and gains of life.

I wish you all good care and perspective with your holiday travels, shopping, joys and even sorrows this season. Thank you for reading my blog. Have a warm and healthy holiday!

Hugs, Isa

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