Friends are such a blessing. My friends are such a blessing to me. If I pause for just an instant in themiddlebit of a busy moment I can call to mind so many moments...with a friend. So many events. So many emotions. So many friends. Girlish frustration and giggling about being made to eat birthday cake with chopsticks; barefoot tennis and hotel room hijinxs that made me laugh so hard I nearly wet my pants; sitting in a college apartment hearing the news of my mother's breast cancer over the phone; falling in love; garage sales and birthday parties and thrift stores and roller coasters and baby girls. In my mind I can look to the left and the right and see my friends. And there I am. In the middle.
I have celebrated with them. Cleaned up with them. Laughed and cried with them. Climbed mountains and slogged through the mud. And when they call out, "I need some help." I jump up and run over. It's what I do. It's part of what makes me who I am.
Last February, my dear friend Maria called out, "Help." She called out to her friends with the news she was in desperate need of us. Of help. She called out to tell us that all was not fine. That she had laundry to do and errands to run and two young daughters to mother and dinner to prepare and a husband who was busy...and in the middle of all of that...she had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer. In her 40's. She called out, "Help."
She needed meals prepared and a few loads of laundry done. She needed someone to pick her kids up from school and someone else to keep her girls while she spent hours on the phone arranging medication and having x-rays and scans and endless visits with doctors. And I wanted to be one of the friends that could rush right over and help.
But I live in the Middle. And she lives 1,500 miles away. And I was paralyzed. I wanted to bring her family a meal while she was in the hospital. And scoop up those girls. And fold laundry. And run to the drugstore. I wanted to jump right into the middle of it all and help. But I couldn't...or so I thought.
Maria is incredibly blessed by her friends too. She had people to her left and to her right that could do those things for her. She was in the middle of the fight of her life, but she had her people all around her. They came. They washed and cooked and scooped and hugged and supported and drove and sat quietly with her while she drank tea...and so I thought...
What can I do? What can I do? Maria once said to me, "Lady! You should write a book! I would totally buy your book! And then I'd buy a bunch more copies for all of my girlfriends." And I laughed her off...heh, I could never write a book...or so I thought.
But that's just what I've done. I've written a book about all of the things that happen in the middle. About the distance from healthy to cured. About the space where accidents happen and recoveries begin. About the tiny miracles that can be seen in the chaos and the joys that you miss if you're not looking for them. About the middle bit.
I have collected and revised all of my most favorite essays from the first years of this blog. And my sister and some of my friends have taken magnificent photographs to accompany my words. And now you can buy a copy of it for yourself and know that 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Maria's fight.
You won't need to rush out and look for it in your local bookstore because I have done this very modern thing called "self publish" which means you can just follow the link below and order yourself a copy. It takes just over a week and you'll be able to hold it in your hands and make it part of your collection.
Maria is a treasure in my collection of friends. I am blessed by her. And this is the thing I could do when she called out...help.