have a magnet on my fridge. It says, “Faithful Friend.” It is probably the most humbling gift that was ever given to me. Not because, I haven’t been a faithful friend, wife or mother, but because I never considered that my behavior was something other than the norm.
Over the past few weeks, I have rediscovered the meaning of faithfulness. I used to lecture my sorority sisters on “love being a verb..” perhaps I should have expanded that idea because “faithful” is a verb as well.
The actions of my friends over the past weeks have proven their love and faithfulness over and over. They have loved me, been faithful to me, and protected me in every way possible. They continue to watch over me and keep me safe from upset or harm as I tread a very sad journey that few understand. To say that they are all allowing me a “pass” or two would be an understatement. I told a friend the other day, “I am really not happy being the center of attention.” She said, “Oh don’t worry..you won’t get to be much longer..” However, the absolute surreal circumstances that thrust me into my friends’ arms are hard to describe.
My sister was teaching school in September. TEACHING SCHOOL. She fell at the end of the September and never went back. She went into the hospital the week before Thanksgiving, she was diagnosed with CJD on December 5.
On that day, the neurologist came into her hospital room where I had moved in, and asked me to follow him to a different room to talk. He had “bad news”. My throat closed up, and I desperately looked around for my oldest brother who was due at the hospital any minute. For an instant, I wished that I wasn’t on the verge of divorce although it is unlikely my ex husband would have been anywhere near the hospital anyway. I considered running away but realized that wouldn’t change the outcome, and I was in my slippers so probably wouldn’t get very far.
So I sat across from this sweet well intentioned man as he told me that he was very sorry but my big sister was going to die..within six months, and how it would be a great help if we donated her brain to the National Prion Institute. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. I remember getting up and walking back around the corner clutching papers that meant my sister was dead and praying my brother and his wife were there. They were. I remember crying in my sister in law’s arms and saying, “And then, there were three..”
She died 65 days after the confirmation of her CJD diagnosis. Most people don’t even know what CJD is. It’s a monster. An evil monster that stole my sister and caused my family such hurt.
The night that she died as tears of anguish rolled down my cheeks, my big brother held me and told me that I was a great friend to my sister. Then, a dear friend texted me and told me “you put yourself aside to care for her. What a testimony.” I cried again because to me there was not another option.
“Faithful Friend” I am her faithful friend still even if she isn’t here for me to hold, hug, or kiss. I can’t bring her back, but I can share her journey, her stories and educate people about CJD in the process.
Finally, thank you to MY faithful friends. It doesn’t seem like enough to say. I am humbled by your love, your faithfulness, your selfless devotion to me at this time. I love you, all.