This past Monday not only marked the holiday of MLK, but my first trip to the outpatient lobby of Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago. First trip you ask? Let me de-confuse you. I did not accompany my superhero for his cast. I went to support my other family...my scoliosis sisters, my Lucky Cast Club. Of the 20+ beautiful children our community now wraps itself around, 3 of my near and dear were getting casted and the pull couldn'tve been stronger. I needed to be there. I needed to stand with them, if only in spirit, as they endured the long process and the emotional rollercoaster we all know and (don't)love as cast day.
Iron Will, Sweet Kiya and beloved "G" were getting casts 11, 6 and 8 respectively. Not only do I have a kinship of sorts with these beautiful babies (they're not babies, but like any mother, I endearingly do and will always refer to them as such), I share a kindred connection to their mothers. My beloved friends are the rocks and sounding boards of my scoliosis world and I theirs. That's how we are.
I haven't known them long, but any survivor of a tragedy or unexpected shift in your paradigm and perfect world, can tell you that those with whom you endure the fire, the fury and the battle with, are evermore your family. There is a split-second and constant connection that ties you and binds you in deeper and more profound ways than frienships shared over years or blood ties. It is the shadows of darkness and dread you experience together with an understanding only those who too, experienced that darkness can relate to and truly..."get". It is the scars of the fight, the pain of the loss, and the witness to the injustice that pulls you to one another closer each time.
But more beautiful and powerful I have found in these women, their children, their husbands, and their families are the gifts and the blessings that come out of the darkness. Integrity. Advocacy. Empathy. Tenacity. Faith. Encouragement. Laughter. Loyalty. ...and then there is love.
I love them because we have something special. We've seen one another in our ugly cries and in our joyous ones. We've lifted one another out of deep and deafening tidepools that keep joy out and anxiety in. We've been one another's life lines and beacons. We've held out our hands so that when down and weak and scared and timid in the face of fear, someone is there to pull us up into a stance whispering in our ear and in our heart, "you can do this." I love them because like me, they are mommies who have had to stand back and helplessly and often hopelessly, love a child who is fighting a constant battle in their body. They know what I know: agony, sadness, anger, depression, dread, fear, disgust, guilt, fatigue...the not so pleasant faces of being a parent battling Infantile Scoliosis.
I love them because their presence is a security that wraps me with love and understanding in the scoliosis moments. And trust me, those moments (even when your child is in a brace) are abundant and cruel. I love them because I trust them. This said trust runs deep with vulnerabilities of a parent blindly manuevering through the world of scoliosis; making mistakes along the way in the judgement of caring for my son and his cast..and his brace...and his self-esteem...and his well-being.
Their ability and capacity to allow me to be...to BE, is reassuring that I am in the company of companions. Whether it be in sharing a movie, a glass of wine, laughter, dancing or more profoundly still, my son's story and our similar paths, it is comfort. It is friendship. It is trust. It is unexpected delight in sharing more; life stories, love stories and perhaps even a naughty cigarette (or two) while hidden in the deep woods of Indiana ;)
But what I love most about these women is their beautiful and palpable spirits of hope. Either collectively or in the quiet of a personal text or phonecall, they have the capacity to lift me out and push me back...back into a better mood, a brighter place or a gentle reality check. They pour life back into me. With their smiles, their laughter, their hands to hold and hearts to cling to, they sense the alienating feeling of coming close to losing hope creep upon me and instinctively, they know exactly when to shine it back in...like yellow diamonds in the light. How blessed am I?
My list of beautiful friendships from my Lucky Cast Club community does not stop at these three, but it was in the giddiness of the joy, the calm in the news and the familiar of the hospital and the routine of that day, that I was awakened to the gift of what we have. Then yesterday, to magnify it even more, Catie texted me a song that brought it all home.
I had heard the song before and in fact, it sits in my playlist and is a frequent "kitchen dance tune" that my children and I will jam to. But in hearing it at that moment, it took on a deeper meaning. It translated what I've known for some time but perhaps have not appreciated to the degree that I should. That these four women (Kelli, you will always be included!) are special. They are unexpected presence I received in a lifetime of many gifts. And I know that those rare blessings that come along in a lifetime should not be minimized or taken for granted.
You gals are my rocks. You are my "yellow diamonds in the light...I just can't deny." The only difference is, I will not let go. I love you.