I guess you never realize how many friends you truly have until something happens.  And by “until something happens,” I mean until something bad happens.  Like being diagnosed with a disease that is going to suck for at least the next six months, maybe longer.

I feel very lucky to say that since my diagnosis has “come out of the closet,” a lot of people have stepped forward and proven themselves worthy of the term “friend.”  Very worthy, I must say.

I have had so many sincere offers of help in the past few weeks that I feel overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed in a good way, mind you.  But the outpouring of concern and aid has really surprised me.

But why am I so surprised?  I obviously have had the good fortune to know a lot of really fabulous, good-hearted individuals.  I think that working at a non-profit has helped introduce me to many kind and wonderful people (not that kind people don’t work at for-profit companies, but non-profits seem to draw them like flies to a cow’s patootie).

Many of these wonderful co-workers put together a gift package for me last week.  It’s somewhat of a misnomer to call it a “package” because it consisted of a large basket and three gigantic overflowing bags of goodies that they so thoughtfully curated for me.  There were far too many items to remember to list them all, but among the treasures were a snuggly plush blanket, a lovely soft wrap that buttons in front, a wine-colored scarf (that perfectly matches a new shirt I just bought), several books (including an inspiring one on friendship), a meditative coloring kit, a very cool water bottle by S’well, magazines, snacks, supplements, a beautiful soft-pink orchid, numerous lotions, shower gels, soaps, mouthwash (to battle the dry mouth that chemo will inevitably bring), drinks, a variety of teas, hand sanitizer, tissues, skin care oils, and many other items that I’m sure I’m leaving out.  Whew.

I think I’m fully prepared for any contingency that chemo can bring on, thanks to these awesome people that I’m so happy to call my friends.  They’ve fortified me physically as well as emotionally for what may come. When I returned to work on Tuesday, there was even an adorable felted animal on my desk with a note saying, “Just for you — a very rare southeastern bat squirrel!”  He even came with his own equally adorable felted pumpkin.

felted squirrel and pumpkin

That’s not to mention the offers of help… offers to accompany me to appointments, to cook meals for me, to clean my house, to just sit and talk, to be there.

Many times I have found myself wondering how can I ever repay these friends?.  Not that friendship can be calculated like a tit-for-tat scorecard, but really, what could I ever give them that could come close to what they’ve given me?

The short-story writer, Katherine Mansfield, once wrote in a letter to a friend, “I am treating you as my friend, asking you to share my present minuses in the hope that I can ask you to share my future plusses.”  My friends are sharing my present minuses like connoisseurs of tribulation.  Maybe one day, when I have successfully followed the crumbs that lead out of this dark forest, I will have “plusses” that I can share with them as well.