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To the Friend I Had to Cancel On... Again

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I cancelled on a coffee date with one of my friends again. This is the second time now. I am sure she thinks I am faking being sick and just don’t want to see her. But it’s not her, it’s me. Everything was just wrong about our meeting at three in the afternoon. I am beyond exhausted at three. I get up early for work and come home and crash at noon. I then have lunch and nap for two hours but never wake up refreshed – I’m still tired in a way no amount of sleep will ever take away. My body hurts. My joints are burning, my head is aching and I feel crabby. The last thing I want to do is go out and chat over coffee and scones.

It seemed like a good idea at the time when I made plans last week. We talked in the morning during my two hours of energy right after I got to work. I thought it would be OK to venture out and catch up with a friend. But as usual, it was not. I feel as though I have no life. As the 3:00 hour approached, panic began to set in. Can I call and cancel again? What excuse could I use this time? How in the world could someone still be sick for two weeks in a row? Yes, she knows I have Lyme disease, but does she really know I have Lyme disease?

I fight to be normal. To have normal activities with my normal friends. But I fail every time. The caffeine wears off, the pain sets in and I just can’t. I can’t fake that all is well. I can’t smile and say, “This is so much fun! Why did we take so long to get together?”

So, I text and cancel. Since no emergency came up, I had to tell her the truth – that I am still not feeling well and must have gotten that bug going around the office (I know I got it and every other bug that was out there). I apologize and say how sorry I am to cancel again but I would hate to pass on this nasty bug to her. I then turn the ringer off on my phone and lie down on the couch, feeling like a loser. Why do I do this? Why do I even make plans? My guilty conscience won’t let me rest so I fire off another text. “want you to know that it’s not you; it’s me. It’s my Lyme disease that makes me scratch plans at the last minute. I feel horrible. I hate being sick. But, I love you. I wish I were different. Thank you for still being my friend and wanting to see me. I wish I could be a better friend to you. I miss you!”

There – I did it. I was totally honest this time. It may not change anything about my condition and my need to abandon well-intentioned plans, but at least I feel better to have explained why I had to bow out. I may lose another friend. I understand that.

I can rest now, and dream. Dream of the day when it’s wasn’t me who was sick and had to miss out on life. The phone shatters my approaching slumber. It’s her! Panic. I can’t answer it for fear I will not sound sick or weak enough. I quickly set the ringer to off again and turn my phone face down. I can’t talk to her, to anyone. But if I could talk I would say a million times over; it’s not you, it’s me. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s always me. But, can you love me anyway? Love me still? Even if you never see me or hear from me?  Even if all you must go on is memories of how I was before. That’s all I have – the time when it wasn’t just me but us: you and I together laughing with the pleasure of a million birds in flight, facing a glorious sun in the bright blue sky on a lovely day in May. A day like today. Please remember me while I rest alone on my couch with the shades drawn and a blanket pulled up to my neck. And pray that someday I will be able to rise and join you and it will be us together again, and not just you and me alone.

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Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.

Originally published: May 18, 2017
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