August 30, 2007
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17.
When I was ill, my family did everything they could to help me. God blessed me with a husband, a daughter and a mother who loved me in spite of my inability to participate in everyday life. I think it is probably frightening to get too close to a person who is in incredible pain, but my family loved me and helped me. My mother dedicated herself to prayer and fasting; she refused to give up hope. She persevered in prayer, even when I felt I could pray no more.
Mary Ann on her wedding day.
I also had a friend, Mary Ann, who refused to give up on me. Mary Ann lives about an hour’s drive away from me, and she would drive over sometimes to spend time with me. I had nothing to give in the friendship, but she was willing to do all the giving.
When I first left my teaching position, I got a few calls from my friends at work. I could not talk. I remember hearing their messages as they left them. I wanted to pick up the phone and engage in conversation with them, but it was impossible. As I heard their messages, I realized I was in the process of letting go. I was becoming more isolated.
Social isolation is something that often threatens people with neuropathic facial pain or trigeminal neuralgia. Social activities often trigger pain. It causes one to deal with the environment, such as breezes, winds and noise, as a threat. Difficulty interacting with others, problems with being touched and being frequently misunderstood become part of reality. People often find life easier if they just stay home.
Mary visited me in my home, continuing our friendship in the midst of my pain and isolation. One time she drove over when I was experiencing grief. My uncle, Jonah Gilbert, had died. I had lost touch with my father’s family, but they had located me to let me know of his death. Although I could not brush my teeth or my hair, I was compelled to go to his funeral.
The day before the funeral, Mary Ann came to visit me at my mother's, where I had needed to stay for few days. Mary Ann helped me prepare for the next day, and then she asked if she could do anything else. I asked her if she would scrape the dead skin off the bottom of my feet. Most people would run, but Mary Ann began to work on my feet. I had been taking medication for a long time, and my skin was very dry. The next day was a good one. The Lord gave me a reprieve, and I was able to brush my teeth and hair and to apply cosmetics. I attended the funeral, and I was not ashamed of my feet.
A couple days later, I had gone for a ride with my husband. At the front step of my door was a pedicure kit. Mary Ann had left it for me. I thought about something my mom had posted in her beauty shop for many years: A true friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out. That’s Mary Ann, in a nutshell. God has given me a friend who loves me at all times.
Have you read With Great Mercy?