This is part of a series of posts about Silver Linings. There are a lot of shitty things about chronic illness, but there are some hidden surprises that are actually quite good. These are the good things.
Since I’ve been off work for the past year there have been a lot of difficult things and a lot of frustrations but there have also been some blessings in disguise, some silver linings. One of those has been friendships.
Not working has given me more time, more energy and more opportunities to meet people and to develop the existing relationships in my life. Because of my unique circumstances I’ve had to reach out to people. A great example is in getting my daughter from daycare. When I first became ill my husband would drop off our daughter at daycare in the mornings and I would pick her up in the afternoon. This meant that I would have to take the bus because I could no longer drive. So I would bus to her daycare, pick her up, and we would bus home together. It would take two buses to get home, and she was a toddler and not able to walk very much so I would end up carrying her for big chunks of the trip, and we would have to stand in the rain some days, and the whole thing would take me about two hours from leaving my home to returning with her. I was doing it most afternoons and I didn’t really mind because I thought “well, I have the time and it gets me out of the house, and it gets me walking a bit…” But really it was not convenient. It was kind of a pain but what are you going to do? It wasn’t the end of the world.
Meanwhile our upstairs neighbours had their daughter in the same daycare. We knew each other a bit and we would chat on the porch sometimes but weren’t exactly friends. One day they saw me walking from the daycare to the bus stop and they said “do you want a lift?” And I had to say no because I didn’t have a car seat with me, and truthfully I didn’t want to burden them. But at home a few days later they offered again and suggested we drop her car seat off with her in the morning and then in the afternoon we could easily get a ride home with them. And at first I was like “no, no, it’s okay. I can manage.” Because I felt like this is my life and I should be able to handle it. I get frustrated when I see people make life choices where they get in over their heads and then rely on those around them to bail them out repeatedly. I feel like I should be able to manage my own life. But they were very insistent so a couple days later I went out to Walmart and bought a $20 portable car seat and so every afternoon they would ring my doorbell and we would drive together to get our daughters and it took me half an hour.
What used to take two hours now only took 30 minutes.
It was such a blessing. It made my day so much easier. It made my daughter so much happier because she didn’t have to wait in the rain and the snow. And it gave me the chance to get to know my neighbours. I because friends with each of them and our daughters became friends in the back seat. The girls would chat and share snacks, and it evolved from there. We started going to McDonald’s for dinner and having play dates. And we eventually went away for a weekend to a cottage with them and a bunch of friends. Now we have board game nights, we exchange babysitting, and lately I’ve been sharing some of my personal struggles and feelings as we chat and she has been a great support, a great listener and a great friend.
If I had not gotten ill I would have never gotten to know them like that. So that’s one of the silver linings of being sick.