I kind of feel that I need to set the record straight. I haven't been sharing what Joy has been going through, and my visits up there, to tout my good deeds. I actually don't see what I did as above or beyond the call of duty. I don't feel like I've done anything special. I did what any friends would do...if they could. And one of the reasons I could do it is because I don't have a pesky job getting in the way. The upside of unemployment. It was easy for me to go up there for a week to help out. As a matter of fact, I looked forward to it like a vacation.
Also, for the record, I was not the only one helping out. There are many others pitching in, and doing even more. Some of them even have jobs or families of their own to take care of. We're simply doing what friends do: Help out as much as we can when we can. Isn't that the basic definition of friendship?
And it's not like it's a chore to be with Joy and her family. They are great people. And it's not like they were asking me to milk cows or churn butter. I was doing what I would do at home anyway: cook and clean and run a few errands. Except at Joy's there's a washer and dryer *in* the house (I go to the laundromat), and they have a real, live dishwasher (while I have dishpan hands). So, in actuality, I get to have a bit of a vacation by indulging in those modern conveniences and fantasizing about the day I actually live like a grown up.
I also had the added bonuses of the world's more adorable alarm clock and a magical coffee maker. Pancakes and waffles were served on the weekends, and I got to hang out with people I truly adore in a lovely community. Yeah, hand me the martyr crown.
Joy looked at me with concern one day. "I don't know how I am ever going to repay you for this," she said. My eyebrows came together. "You bought my lunch today. I think that makes us even." She shook her head. "I'll come up with something." And then she did a bit of performance art that still brings a tear to my eye...because I laugh so hard thinking about it.
In full disclosure, Joy insists on paying me gas money. It's absolutely ridiculous, but I've learned not to argue. You really shouldn't argue with a friend going through chemo. It kind of makes you look like an asshole. So, I smile and take it, then use it to buy Guinness and wine for my next trip up there. It's my way of getting her back, though it's me and her husband who really get the benefit. I do make sure the wine is organic, in case she decides to have a glass (or two).
I have another friend going through a lawsuit. She lives out of state, so we will have lengthy chats via telephone. She, too, thanked me for being a good friend the other day, and it sort of pissed me off. "Do you not listen to my shit?" I asked her point blank. "Yeah," she answered, somewhat taken aback. "Well, it's give and take, dear. It's all just give and take." And then I said, "Look, it takes a good friend to let someone be a good friend. So, mirror, mirror, my friend."
I really want to be clear about this: I am not a good friend. I am just someone who has a lot of good people in her life. And I love them dearly. Anything I give, it's miniscule in comparison to what I get from them.