The Power of Friendship

I’ve been quiet of late for a variety of reasons not the least of which is that major currents are running through my life right now in ways that make me feel very vulnerable to the will of the ocean. I’ve had much reason to become mistrustful, and it has colored my perception of the world around me to a point that I’d severed or strangled many of the relationships in my life. As many of you know, my relationship of eleven years recently ended, and, as public as much of my recent life has been, I remain a somewhat private person. I was adrift, and the sea around me seemed dark, dangerous, and mostly devoid of life.

I did what I think most people would do in that situation. I struggled. I rushed around trying to put together some lifeboat that would see me through, and while I’ve had some success in that regard, I still felt very much alone. My dear family in Georgia has been very supportive, and I have a few good friends here in Michigan who were kind enough to keep tabs on me, but for the most part, my days since September 8, 2009—the day I was asked to packed my things and leave the business that I’ve spent the last seven years building with my former partner—have been desolately empty.

It wasn’t because no one cared or contacted me. Several did. One friend took me out to lunch and listened to the whole sordid tale before offering me a place to stay for a while with both dogs if need be. A couple of friends took me to dinner on a couple of different occasions. Several others have offered similar lunches, dinners, coffees, and the like. But I was going to fix this. I alone had the power.

But I didn’t.

My mom went into the hospital Thursday with an extremely high blood calcium level, lethargy, and impaired kidney function. Yesterday, I found out that it’s likely her cancer is back. She should get the diagnosis today.

Through all of this… through my entire life, my mother has been a strident supporter, a friend of amazing strength and understanding, and of course, the guide and nurturer that all parents hope to be. She’s succeeded. And through her strength, my sister and I along with our families have gotten through the last six years of her battle with ovarian cancer. And in the midst of my own battle, her cancer is back.

I was devastated. I came home, lay down across my bed with a dog on either side trying to comfort me, and just sank. I let go. With waves crashing all around me, I let go of everything and just let myself sink into it. I didn’t cry. I didn’t pray. I just fell.

Then something twitched. It occurred to me to pray, and I did. The tears wouldn’t quite come, but something was moving beneath the surface. I called a friend: someone totally out of the situation except for our friendship. And the weeping began. And we talked. And I cried. And we talked. There was no advice. Just talking. Just getting it out. And in getting it out, I started to find myself. Find my strength. Find that bit that my mother herself nurtured in me. The me part of me.

And in that, I saw that on any ocean, you are never alone. Life abounds around you. Even in the smallest drop of water, life abounds. I started to see the foolishness of my previous attitude… my silence… my stoicism and hermitage. How blind I was. But no more.

I need help. And help is out there. I have put great good out into the world over the forty years of my life, and there are some amazing people who have been trying to give some back. I’ve pushed them away out of some ridiculous notion that I somehow needed to deal with everything myself, but that’s over. I started calling friends, and amazingly enough, several friends have started calling me… offering help that they’d stopped offering weeks ago because of my attitude. Yet somehow, as if on cue, they’re back.

One friend directed me to a James Mapes article, and through it, I found this blog post on friendship that seemed remarkably fitting.

I’m still in the water, and the waves continue to crash. But I’m not alone. I see that now. And I don’t have to do this alone. Thank you, everyone. Your kindnesses are more deeply appreciated than I will ever be able to express.

29 thoughts on “The Power of Friendship”

  1. Hi. We have never met, but did talk on the phone once when I was ordering yarn. Just wanted you to know, your mom, you and your family are in my prayers.

  2. Matt, so much happening in your life… almost too much at one time to take. You will get through it, but it’s so tough right now. Best wishes to you and your Mom.

  3. Hi Matt. We haven’t met, either- just talked while I ordered yarn (and it’s been awhile). You are strong, even when you don’t feel that way. Please take care of yourself- hugs to you and your mom.

  4. Matt, I’m so glad to hear this from you. It’s encouraging that you appear to be finding yourself again, healing, and gaining the strength to start a new part of your life. Sending you a big hug!

  5. Heard about your mom a couple of days ago and have had you and your family in my prayers. Sure do miss seeing you. If there is anything I can do for you feel free to ask. Just know that you are missed and loved.

  6. You and your family and especially your Mom are in my prayers. I tell everyone (including myself) the same thing when things get this rough-just do the next thing and stay in the present.
    Be well.

  7. Sending you hugs and love! I had no idea about all the changes in your life…wow! I have a present for you, actually I got it a few weeks ago and hadn’t gotten around to dropping it off at the store. Give me an address, it’ll make you smile! Wishing you a safe journey to Georgia. Prayers for your mama.

  8. I’m praying that your mother will pull through this with flying colors. That you like all of us came to a point in your life when something within just snaps. It happened to me when I turned 30, when I said life has got be better than this.

    You are in my prays forever.

    Dianne

  9. Your mother has been in my thoughts since I heard about her problems recurring. I only met her once but she is a wonderful lady. I wish the two of you all the luck in the world and beyond. Have a safe trip to Georgia and stay in touch. You are missed.

    Rita

  10. Hi Matt-
    I took a sock class from you a while ago… I came from GR. I learned so much and really enjoyed it. I’m sorry to hear about the events of your life. I am wishing your Mom health and you strength as you make a new life for yourself. Take care of yourself.

  11. Hi Matt
    I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. She seemed like a wonderful lady when I met her at the shop. Please keep in touch and let us know how things are going, both with your mom and with you. Wishing both of you all the best.

    Sue Hall

  12. I was so sorry to hear about your mom. She’s in my thoughts and prayers as you are also. I hope your trip to Georgia is safe. Love Sheila

  13. I am sorry to hear that your mother is ill. There are many people who care about you, miss you, and are praying for you and your family.

  14. I hope you are safe in GA and that you are finding something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. You don’t have to do this alone, don’t try to do it again. We are all here for you – all you have to do is ask.

    Take care. May God watch over you and your family during this difficult time.

  15. Matt, take care of your family first whether your fur children or humans, everything else will fall in place.
    I am thankful you are finding your social identity again.
    Whenever I did visit the store, I was always thankful that you treated me kindly, didn’t share your bodily functions with me, or other similar issues. While many may have thought that funny, I found it gross.

  16. Hang in there Matt – remember that you are loved and you are as ever in my prayers. I am adding you and your mom to our church’s prayer list. Hug the boys for me! I miss you all so much and just want to wrap you in all sorts of Love.

  17. Matt,
    You, your Mom and the dogs will be in my thoughts and prayers! I will miss you and your shining personality. The store will not be the same without its heart and I will not go there again. “Dreams Soar, Dreams Sparkle, Dreams Proclaim Life’s Mystery, Nothing Is Impossible For A Crafter of Dreams.” and you are a Crafter of Dreams! Brightest Blessings for your future!

  18. Matt,

    You and your family will be in my thoughts for best possible outcomes. Also wanted to say thanks for all you good work at Threadbear. I enjoyed learning from you and talking with you, and miss you and the dogs. Wishing you the very best of all things for 2010. Jan

  19. Good Morning Matt,
    Please post and let us know how you and your family are doing. I have thought about you a lot and wish I had a better way of letting you know that. I miss you. Take care. RuthAnn

  20. Matt,
    How is your Mom doing? My prayers have been for you and your Mom. I have been wondering about the dogs. Glad someone is able to help you out temporarily. How is your job search going? have you thought about opening a yarn shop there? You certainly have the experience. Know that you can’t make big money in the yarn shop business. Just remember knitting is a big stress reliever. Keeop in touch.

  21. Hi Matt
    Many prayers for your mom, you, and your sister through all of this. A big hug for you. Remember to take care of yourself. Wishing you nothing but the best in this coming new year

  22. Matt,

    I have been trying to find a way to reach you since Gayle told us that you were no longer at Threadbare. I guess I’m just stubborn and finally found some quality time and I think that I found you. I wanted to thank you for showing us how to do mitered squares to begin the memory keeper afghan. I am finally getting at the project quite a few months later and have a couple of questions. I also had wanted to show you what I created on the way to the afghan – a delightful bag of mitered squares that I invented by just continuing to work in different directions from the 3 original squares. It really turned out nicely and I would be willing to send e-photos. I finally gave the gift to my doctor – they were her colors: sage green and browns and other fall colors. Sorry that I didn’t try harder to find you, but since September 21st our life has been all turned upside down with the discovery of a large lump in my other (remaining) breast, which didn’t turn out to be just another cyst. Currently, I am undergoing chemo – a new regimen for what is now termed “triple negative breast cancer”, a totally different cancer from the one that I had 7 years ago. I had a mastectomy in October, have mostly healed from that and restretched the tendons in my arm (I had to get back to knitting as soon as I could!), and began chemo (a new protocol of weekly treatments for 15 + 12 weeks, to be followed by radiation, which may be less damaging to my heart and coincidentally my stomach). I go for the 4th treatment tomorrow. I so appreciated your comments on trying to get your life back on track. Any big sudden and maybe not wanted change will need a grieving process. I had retired last year from my position as Township Clerk so that I could do more volunteering and other things with my husband before it’s too late, took the first 9 months of 2009 to clear out the house – so that I could tolerate living there again, and a week after our garage sale, the lump was found during a routine mammography by the radiologist. A month earlier, during a manual exam by by OB-GYN, there was no lump! So I’ve just put my “real” life on hold for a year [someone is really trying to teach me patience!] and am trying to survive these treatments so that I can get back to doing what I want to do: thinking about others and not so much about me. And I have so many things that I still want to knit!!! I’ll be thinking of you, Matt, and hope that we can get together sometime soon when I feel good enough to get to East Lansing. We love Carraba’s.

  23. Matt, I suspected something was up when I did not see your name in the signature on the newsletter. I am so very sorry. There is power in prayer! I will pray for you and your mother. You will survive this and come back fighting.

    I will miss your presence in the shop.

    Hope

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