Carried by Friendship
By Mary Ann Carey
I have a group of women friends. There are 12 of us. We’ve known each other for about ten years. We met though our children – our boys to be specific. They are all the same age and all played soccer, baseball, and basketball together since first grade. The more time goes by and we continue to get together the more we realize that this is special. “Aren’t we lucky to have each other as friends?” someone will ask, all agree, we are. It has become even more important lately since one of our friends has to move away. Her husband’s job requires it.
We seem to cling to these individual and group friendships like life rafts. In the last six months another peculiar event has taken place. Four of us out of 12 have cancer – three breast cancers and one lung cancer.
We see the end is near for our friend who is moving, more poignant are the dangerous diseases faced by a third of our group and not knowing if and when another kind of end is near and for whom it might be. The friend who is moving is also facing cancer.
Life has taken on a new spin since the cancer and moving have become so real. We get together every Tuesday for about an hour. This time together must be compact. The laughter is medicine. We laugh about our jobs, our kids, and our cancer treatment. Treatment is one more thing on the to-do lists of our week.
This friendship has put the problems in their place. The problems do not have power over us; we have something more important to “do.” We are busy making each other’s lives full and then taking that fullness back to our homes, our jobs, our church, and our doctor appointments. Now, Tuesdays are a prayer. Filled with laughter, listening, crying, encouraging, and eating, Tuesday nights are about healing, even if it’s temporary, it’s still healing. No one leaves on Tuesday night, without having been kissed 11 times, hugged 11 times and reminded 11 times about our next week’s get together.
We don’t know how this ends. We only know that it is a gift from God. It wasn’t planned, it wasn’t sudden, but its significance of this group is so important to each of us.
John 7:33 sings loudly in my head: Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.”
We understand this group, its dynamics, will never be static. We will treasure this short time before we all go back to the One who sent us.