September 13, 2016

Let's Talk

Did you know that my blog isn't one-sided?  

While I love to brain dump and share my musings and document my family's special happenings, my blog has many voices.  It is my voice, and yours.

One of the favorite consequences of my blog is the opportunity it has provided me to connect with people all over the world!  I love the messages I receive!  The sorority of Special doesn't discriminate, there is no age minimum or maximum, nor relational limitations.   We find one another through many means, and I am grateful that my blog is one of those tools to connect.  I respond to every message that I receive. And a little silly secret - for my international readers/commenters, I see the country you are writing from and I read your message with that accent in my head.  It makes me smile. 

There are no strangers that I receive messages from.  They may think they are strangers to me and give introduction of themselves as a preface to their message they send.  But we are all friends here in Special.  Some reach out as a parent, as a grandparent, as a teacher, as a neighbor, as a friend of someone special, or even as someone who is just lingering and a bit curious, who is finding inspiration along the way -- because you can't stand on the Special sideline in curiosity very long and withstand the forces of humanity nudging you into this circle. 

My heart grows knowing that the community of Special is so tight and supportive that it can push one out of their comfort zone to reach out to a stranger in a blog.  I keep messages sent to me unpublished and private for that reason.  In Special, we speak and share with protective and vulnerable hearts.

I received one of my favorite messages last week.  It still warms my heart every time I think about it.

It was a unique type of message, one that I don't get very often.

It was a woman asking me how she can be a better friend and supporter to her friend that has a child with special needs.  Her friend does not live locally to her.  I receive messages and questions from all categories of Special people, but rarely from someone wondering how to be a friend through someone's new, unfamiliar and incredibly frightening special journey.  What a selfless and beautiful heart. 

I share, with permission, a part of her message.

I'm also inspired by many of the posts you openly share about your journey with Bridger. I have a close college friend who I reconnected with recently ....get to talking with her and realize that her special needs son. . . has been getting "worse" -- more seizures and therefore more medications, leading to worsening speech, motor skills, etc. I'm at a loss as to how to help, what to do, when to call and connect with her to let her know that I know it's tough (and somehow don't know at all at the same time) but truly want her to know that I would do anything I could to support her as she (like you) simply acts as the best mom to [him] she can possibly be. Any thoughts you have on what you are sometimes looking for from others, especially close personal friends, when the going gets tough is greatly appreciated....I'm feeling so helpless to help in any meaningful way 😞

For the benefit of others out there with a special friend in their social circles, I include a portion of my response to her. . .

She is one lucky friend to have you! Your friendship will be so important to her whether you feel it is or not. . . .
As far as specific ways to help: 
1) Your friend is/or will be in a very isolated place. Special moms universally say that they just feel so alone. Cheery texts of support or compliments are always wonderful to receive. Likely, when you send those texts, she will be reading it during the middle of one of her hardest days. After the acute diagnosis, the rallying crowds die down and your friend will be the only person patting herself on the back after a hard day. Another person championing her on will be such a welcome wind of support to her.  
2) Calls may be hard to receive, because there really is not a good time to ever catch a minute to talk on the phone, but a card in the mail – even one with a little gift card to Starbucks for a cup of coffee will feel like the biggest gift in the world to her.  
3) Let her talk about her son. I have to guard myself in social conversations not to mention Bridger’s name too often. His care has become my life, and subsequently dominates my talk and I have to guard myself to limit what I say so people’s ears don’t wilt off. But yet, in keeping silent there is so much about my life that I can’t share. Ask her about her son, and just listen, and listen and listen and don’t try to compare it to a similar situation with your kids.  
4) Make her laugh. Talk about old college days or something that reminds her of what is in the core of her. She likely is losing herself in caring for her son and it is refreshing to have an old friend remind us of who they know we are.  
5) Don’t be worried or think your efforts aren’t helping just because you don’t get the response that you think. If I was throwing someone who was drowning a life preserver, I wouldn’t think my effort was wasted because I didn’t hear them say, “Thank you.” Just know you are helping and keep doing it. I have to decline invites so often and I can’t respond to texts – but I always hope that people don’t strike me off their list because I declined for the 7th time or haven’t gotten back to responding to their text. Your friend is there, just remember that she is drowning, but she is grateful for the life preserver. 
You are so kind to want to reach out to her. Thank you for reaching out to me, feel free to do so anytime!
What an amazing and brave friend to reach out into a social sphere of uncomfortable, awkward and unknowns to support her friend!  She has since shared with me that she passed this along to two other friends who have now formed a "team" to support their friend.

With all of the nastiness and improper use of social media - I loved this message last week that showed me there is still so much good that can come from it.

For the friends of someone Special that are reading this, my hat's off to you!  Some of us are on this journey by default, but your presence here is one of choice and that is very admirable.

Every mother caring for a child with special needs requires two things - thick skin and a good friend. . . and maybe a big chocolate chip cookie every once in a while.  Ok, so that is 3 things. 

So Let's Talk!  Have any questions for Special here or for anyone else in your circle of influence somewhere?  Don't be hesitant to ask them. We steer clear of critics, but of friends with comments of support and love - we hold you in the same esteem as angels.

Thank you to all of the Special friend warriors out there, especially to "M" from last week!  This post is honoring YOU!