A wedding vow.
I’m not sure how many marriages live through the sickness of one partner every year. In spite of vows, we never know how many partners are truly supportive of a sick loved one. And I doubt they make books and movies about it. Nonetheless, this type of support is expected by society.
There are no friendship vows. Hopefully, there is mutual benefit, proximity (virtual or otherwise), shared memories, good food and drink, but no vows.
So when one of the friends get sick there are no social expectations, just a totally free giving thing.
Over the past three months, health wise, I moved from believing I would soon be fine and simply needed rest, to feeling very inconvenienced, to losing hope that I would find a light at the end of my tunnel, to expecting a freight train to run me over any minute.
When I went on sick leave, I lost contact with all my work colleagues, including work friends. I also lost the professional friends you meet for drinks or lunch. All the people who surround you day in and day out, who make you believe you’re part of a community of support. It’s often easy to think this, being so taken by neverending work duties and challenges.
Then the friends I interacted with every other day, or week, started ghosting me. Maybe they would’ve been fine if I hadn’t started telling them about the realities of my situation, but now that I have and they have to face their own mortality, I’m a chore. What if I start asking them for favours? Or maybe, having been running on fumes for so long, I was myself not there when they needed me the most and they don’t have it in them to give something they didn’t get. I will probably never know. There is no time or this type of indepth conversation when you are caught between mounting work and personal obligations (sick parents, sick kids, relationship challenges, work, work, and more work).
I did experience some pleasant surprises though, like the employee who messaged me through Instagram with good wishes – twice. The former boss, not to keen on sick people who met me for breakfast and gave me good practical advice. The colleague who often felt like a vocal rival, unequivocally and sincerely offered me her support. The friend going through a hard time who still finds time for breakfasts and dinners and still responds to my texts on the same day I send them. The work friend with two kids and an overwhelming job who met with me for drinks because she thinks I’m worth her making the time to do so. The long-time friend who even living in two cities, pulled in many directions by work and personal obligations, emails me almost every day.
What am I complaining about then you ask?
It’s that in spite of not having made vows, sometimes you develop expectations… And after three months without the constant maelstrom of work that others fight through every day, you have a lot of time to think about them.