Recently, I was told by someone I thought was a lifelong friend that I had "changed." That I was "judgmental" and "only wanted to be friends with heart moms."
Not only did it hurt, but it's totally not true. In fact, my very best friend, who I spend time with every week, is not a heart mom. What she is, though, is understanding.
Maybe I have gotten a bit more cynical after what we've been through. It's hard not to. When someone complains about their money status after purposely quitting their job to get on assistance, I have a hard time listening without saying something back. (Something like "Are you INSANE?" or "This is why people like me can't get public assistance when it's really needed-because people like you are flooding the system.") No one can ever say that I am not honest, that's for sure. I surely don't have time to listen to paltry excuses. I have no patience for whining about trivial things. Does that make me a bad friend? I'd like to think that it just makes me a different one.
The fact that most of my friends are heart friends isn't just coincidence. How it came to be this way is not of my design, and there's really nothing I can do about it. The truth of the matter is that lots of people cannot handle having a friend with complex kids unless they've been in their shoes, or have an enormous and understanding heart. They have to realize that we won't be attending their child's birthday party at Chuck E Cheese in the middle of a pertussis epidemic. That we can't be around them when they have "just a cold" or haven't gotten caught up on vaccines. It truly can be a matter of life and death for my kids, and no pile of tickets and plastic prizes from the arcade is more important. I do feel bad that we can't be as present as we may have been before my kids got sick. I don't enjoy holding my children back from fun activities and potential friendships. But it's a necessary evil. We live by the guidelines set for us by the transplant team, and that's the way it has to be. Sadly, a lot of my former friends didn't have the patience for that. I can see where they'd get frustrated. I admit that I am a terrible phone-call-returner. If you spent as much time as I do on the phone (mostly with insurance companies) I bet you'd loathe it too. I also admit that it probably is hard to deal with the constant denials of invitations sent to my family. It would probably frustrate me too. And so my friends, one by one, have slowly faded from my life.
I don't expect people to "understand" transplant life completely. Even my parents don't totally get it, because they don't live it in the capacity that we do. I just wish that more people would take the opportunity to learn, or even to ask, and truly care, about why we have to do what we do. Or why Madi & Sydney can't do such-and-such activity.
In the end it's their choice, and I try my hardest not to be angry. Let's be real here, though: it really does cut deep. People you thought would walk with you your whole life gone in a flash. Worse than that is when they tell you that you are the one that's selfish, that you have destroyed the friendship. That really stings. It also infuriates me to the core.
So yeah, I guess I have changed. I have had no choice. My life is nowhere near where I thought it would be at this stage of the game. But it's ok. We've made the best damn pitcher of lemonade you ever had out of our loads of lemons that life's thrown at us. You only have to visit with the girls for a few minutes to see that they truly are miracles, and that every restriction is worth it to hear them sing, watch them play and feel their warm hugs.
Through it all, I have learned many important lessons. The one that I've taken away from this about friendship is: Friends are the family you choose. My family of friends is great. And if it took me changing to get them in my life, well then it's worth it.
Sometimes, change is good.