Sadly, it also lets you find out who your true friends are.
Right from the start, cherished friends deserted my sinking ship just when I needed them most. Some left abruptly without a backwards glance, others backed away slowly, step by step.
Why? I guess there are many reasons. Were they worried they’d be roped into looking after me? Would I rely on them more than usual? Were we now too different, too alienated from each other to have much in common any more?
Conversely, other friends rose to the challenge – they stuck by me through everything. They listened to me rant and rave, they wiped my tears, poured my wine and probably ended up knowing more about MS than they could ever have imagined.
Two years on, I thought nothing else could surprise me. I have a fantastic circle of friends and I hope I’m a good friend to them too, and as the MS crisis has receded, our relationship has re-balanced itself.
A couple of weeks ago, my world was rocked once more. An old friend got back in touch. We met years ago in work and although we only kept in touch sporadically, we always picked up where we left off.
We chatted by text and I suggested he look at my blog to catch up with everything that had happened since we last spoke. And that was the last I heard from him.
I feel hurt. Actually, I feel extremely hurt. And angry. The ripples and repercussions from MS are still going on, two years down the line. Now I’m semi-housebound once more after falling last week, I have too much time on my hands to reflect on this. And do you know what? It’s all good.
Those ‘friends’ who’ve left have made way for even better friends. They took their hang-ups and made space for new friends to fill the void.
If any of my friends ever face a situation like I have and I’m not sure how to handle it, the least I can say is, ‘I don’t know what to do or say, but I am here for you, you know that.’ And that is the mark of a real friend.