To My Friend With Chronic Illness, From Your Friend Who Has Your Back

To my friend with a chronic illness,

You are my friend, and I love you.

You aren’t an illness or a diagnosis. You aren’t weak or burdensome. You tell me you feel you aren’t tough or courageous, but your actions tell me another story. You are mighty, and I am so very proud of you for the way you carry on, and I am proud to be welcomed into your life.

If you’ve heard my voice sink when you had to cancel our plans, that’s not disappointment with you. I feel sad that you are suffering. I feel powerless because all the caring and compassion I have for you can’t lift the weight on your shoulders. I wish with all my heart and soul that I could make it all better and if there were a price to be paid, I’d be ready to do whatever it took to settle that bill. None of that changes that I want to be around you, and when you are up to it, I’ll be there. I’ll keep inviting you out and saving a spot for you.

When I look at you, I see the good and the bad. I see the guilt, fear, anger and frustration. I also see kindness, love, compassion, wonder and joy. To say that I don’t see the negatives is dishonesty and a disservice to all the effort you put into daily life. I see them. I value them. They do not detract from the person that I have come to care about and admire.

I aspire to pick up the best parts of you and to incorporate them into myself. If our friends are a mirror for what we are, I am forever improved because you saw that I was worth letting into your world. Earning the trust of a person with a chronic illness is no easy feat. To be welcomed into that fold is to be accepted into a very exclusive, superlatively special club.

I very much want you to get better, but I also want you to know that if you don’t, I will still be here. When you are feeling low and struggling, I will sit with you, so you aren’t alone. When you are feeling good and look your best, I want to be there to celebrate, laugh with you and to make the best possible memories, so we can look back and say we lived the best we could.

I am so very fortunate to have you, and I will do everything I can to help. You’re special to me. That remains true regardless of the circumstances. Sick or well, happy or sad, every minute with you is a gift to be treasured for the rest of my days.

Whatever happens, I want you to know that I have your back. If you need to focus on yourself and your health – physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise – then I encourage you to do so. If I can help, I want to do so. If you need space, I understand. My caring for you is not conditional or contingent on your status or capability. Whatever you are, that is what I love and support.

With love and devotion, always,
Your friend

Getty photo by Archv

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