Humility is a very tough lesson.
I had a crash course two summers ago, when I went on bedrest for preterm labor when Jerry was out of cell phone contact at Zion National Park and my parents were camping somewhere in Virginia. Helen was not yet two years old.
My church family appeared, in droves. My theatre family. My teaching/tutoring family. The friends we’ve made through dog training. Jerry’s colleagues. Their families. Jerry’s parents. When mine were in town, my parents. Helen’s social schedule was ridiculous — I couldn’t lift her or chase her, but expecting her to watch TV all day every day wasn’t fair. Helen had morning social engagements and afternoon social engagements. EVERY day. For over two months. She only recently stopped asking me, “Who’s coming today?” and it’s been over two years.
I was tethered to my sofa on anti-contractives for over 9 weeks. People came to feed us almost daily, friends did random grocery shopping for us, and people even showed up unannounced with their children and cleaning supplies to clean our house for us. I cried a lot, because I was pregnant, of course, but also because I’d never been at the receiving end of this kind of outpouring. I’ve never been on the giving end either, for that matter.
Many, many angels entered our life at that time.
One in particular still gets me all choked up when I think about it. I have known Diane since before I remember knowing people. Her dad was a physician, and our parents were friends. We used to go out on the river with their family — they had a houseboat, and we had a skiboat. Lots of memories in that house. I remember flashing her little brother once when I was probably in middle school, just to be obnoxious.
Diane was getting married the next spring, and had finally, after divorcing her abusive first husband, met the Perfect Man for her. Everything was wonderful. But her future husband had been having a lot of headaches, so he went to see the doctor in June. By this point, I had been on bedrest for about a month, and Diane was over several times a week cleaning up my kitchen, playing with the girls, making sure everything was fine. She never said a word about what was going on.
Her fiance was diagnosed with a brain tumor. An astrocytoma. They moved the wedding up to IMMEDIATELY and they were married at the end of June 2004, and then he had brain surgery, discovering that this brain tumor was too far advanced and was going to kill him within months. Diane kept taking care of me, and never said anything. My life was so totally isolated that I wouldn’t have known except that someone from church finally told me, and then I started crying for Diane, too.
Her spirit through all of that was amazing. After Alice was born, Diane and her recovering husband had a reception since their wedding had been so impromptu. Though Alice was only about 10 days old, I took her to that reception (wore her in a sling and she slept the entire time). I had to go. I needed to go.
Diane looked like an angel in her wedding dress, and was so happy. I’ll always remember that image.
And I hope that one day, Diane will know just how powerful her presence was for me those long weeks while I waited for Alice, while Diane’s own life was turned upside-down. I appreciated her then, but I appreciate it even more now. She’s an amazing woman, and the kind of friend that I hope to learn to be.