Saturday, June 5, 2010


I wrote this yesterday. And didn't think it was appropriate to post. I'm still not sure. I may take it down again. Or not. Hmmmmm

At the moment my mind feels like its half full of water, with old pieces of toy floating and sloshing about. Farmyard animals - a sheep with chewed bent hooves, a bit of old plastic fence. A piece of scuffed red lego, a barbie’s hollow leg, all filled with water.


And I can’t seem to be able to sort through my thoughts.  My good friend here in Tanzania nearly died. She got cerebral malaria and was medivaced to Nairobi where she was in ICU in a coma for a few days. I heard this news while I was in Zambia and I was fully expecting her to die. It is really something of a miracle that she didn’t.  She has a little boy who is a month older than my baby gal. While she was in the hospital they did some tests on the little boy – to check that he didn’t also have malaria and because he wasn’t looking too good. And while his mother was in a coma they discovered that he has leukemia. They had to fly to Europe that night – the boy and his father, leaving the just out of a coma mother with a friend in the hospital. And she’s finally starting to feel a little better (physically). Her and her friend drove back from Nairobi the day before yesterday and I went with her to book her ticket. She flies tonight. I spent most of yesterday with her and saw her briefly today.


What do you say? How do you balance the creepy shoulder squeezing “how are you” with being too upbeat? I find myself talking about the times I have had malaria, how I felt afterwards – in an effort to sympathize and understand but surely that comes out as all memememe? And she says yes, please come and visit I’d love to see you. How do you balance that with overstaying your welcome? Will she feel weird seeing me breastfeed my daughter in front of her?


And how can she possibly even begin to deal with recovering from malaria (which is a bitch at the best of times), and nearly dying, let alone the fact that her son has leukemia and she hasn’t seen him for weeks. How do you even begin to offer comfort? To sit in silence mostly? To listen? And other people come and visit and if I’m feeling irritated by their questions (can’t you see she’s tired? Can’t you see that’s an inappropriate question?) then what must she be feeling? As irritated by me as I am by them?


And is she strong enough to travel? Should I have encouraged her to spend a few extra days to recover more? Surely she needs her family around her, needs to see her boy, her husband. But will the flight and seeing them be too much to cope with? Will she have a relapse? The doctor says no. How can we be sure?

And the thing that bugs me most? Why am I making this about me? Am I? grrrrrrrrr



Lori ann said...

Oh honey,
it's because you care so much. She needs you, so stay there for her, in whatever way you can.
You can ask her what it is she needs from you, to listen to talk to distract, whatever it is.

When my sister had cancer she told me the thing that hurt the most was friends (and even some family) losing touch. I know it's because they don't know what to say. But it still hurts.

So ask her. But stay with her, phone,text,email,visits. And please don't feel bad about your precious baby girl. The BEST thing we can do is to show love.

I'll keep your friend and her baby in my prayers, and you too.
♥ lori

Karine Ardault said...

When I learn she was medivaced to nairobi, I heard my friends, her friends, saying "she is strong, she's healthy, she'll be ok". I am always the quiet one. I did not say anything. At that moment I was thinking that of course I wanted her to get better, quickly. but how did they know? they did not. They were just wishing the best for her. They were reassuring themselves.

You cannot feel what A. feels. You cannot enter her heart and her mind. You can only be there for her and yes, think about your experience. It is your only way to relate to what she is living at the moment. that is your way to get clother to her.

do not feel guilty of thinking of your experience, of not knowing what to do or say. you are here for her and that is only what matters. she knows and she feels it. Now she is flying to her husband, her son, her family. that is what matters for her, for now.

Lemon Gloria said...

Lovely Miranda, you're not making it about you. You're trying to figure out how you can ease her pain, say the right thing, not make things worse...I read this with such a huge lump in my throat and tears welling - what a painful situation.

For me, in my worst moments with my dad, the friends who said they were there for me, who said they'd call but I didn't have to answer if I couldn't, but they would keep calling if that was OK (and they did), and kept reminding me that they loved me - those were the ones who helped the most.

Miranda said...

Lori - thank you for these kind words. I've been texting her like crazy and was wondering whether it was too much, but I shall continue! xxx

Karine - thank you, and you are right of course. IT makes me feel better. I also heard everyone saying she'll get better but I was fully preparing myself for the worst. How is your trip going? Looks awesome!

Lisa - I always thought I was quite good at knowing what to say (or not say) when people are going through tragedy. I guess this one is just so close to home. And the thing I need to remember too, is to still be there, even years down the line (they say his treatment will take 3 - 5 years). I hope all your friends are still there for you. xxx

Angela said...

Wasn`t it good, though, that the little boy has been tested and found out early? When detected in an early state, leukemia can be healed much easier. So somehow her terrible illness has maybe done something good, even.
I remember when my first baby was half a year old and a lady I knew lost her little boy, same age, by sudden child death. No explanation.
Ever since, I have been thankful for every day we had together, my babies and I, and sad for anyone who loses a child. Sometimes it is good to think of our own experiences to relate. Yes, Miranda dear, I think you are being a wonderful friend, by giving so much thought to the whole situation, even questioning your own doings - but be soothed. Your love will reach her (as it even reaches us!) And shared love is the best and perhaps only thing which can heal. We are all supporting you!

gstickings said...

This is a fantastic post, showing so clearly you are a friend who cares, and is empathising, because you see all these questions and ask them of yourself, and us. I would be happy to have someone like you come visit in such a situation
(and whilst not excactly parallel, I have had some life experiences which mean when I ask myself if it's too presumptuous of me to make that statement, I feel I can honestly answer no)

Shiny said...

Oh, Miranda, I cried and cried at this post, and it put a lot of things in perspective for me. It is so easy to be all mememe. You, however, are not being mememe here, at all. I am hoping and wishing and putting good thoughts out there for them. I love that picture of you two, so very beautiful, and so very precious.

Lots and lots of love xx

Miranda said...

Geli - yes, lucky they caught it so early, had she not got the malaria they may have found it much later. Still so so hard though

gstickings - thank you! xxx

Shiny - you are certainly not memememe. I love that pic too. Its actually of the very friend in question, but we look similar from the back! Hope you start feeling better soon too! xxxxx

Anonymous said...

God, how awful. As the others say there are no social rules for how to act and we can easily feel awkward, paranoid and our of our depth. But just by being there for yur friend she has your warmth and strength to draw from. The words aren't the most inmportant thing in this situation, but knowing you love her and are there for her is.
xx said...

you were there for her Miranda, and you were practical. and you only worry because you wanted to do the best you could. and you did. but you still keep worrying. because thats the thing about friends and difficult times: you don't get a pre run, you just have to go on instinct. You did well. she'll do fine and the prognosis for children with leukemia is very good. and you can be there for her when she gets back and cherish her and fill her larder with food so that she and her little boy can get strong together. That will mean alot. x

family Affairs said...

Your poor friend. How awful. You didn't at all make that post about you. I know from experience with traumas that it's the friends that are there for you - even if they say the wrong thing that glow in the dark Lx