Posted by: Kate | February 26, 2009

A Better Friend

Yesterday, I took the kids down to Boston for an afternoon at the Museum of Science. Always a fun thing for them, and we have a membership to this national science/children’s museum consortium that allows free entry into any of the member programs, so it was reasonably affordable, despite gas and parking and lunch.

We met up with my friend Jenny and two of her kids. Most of the time was spent, the way it happens when you try to meet up with someone in public with children, chasing our respective offspring and just sort of nodding at each other from across the room. But we had a few minutes to sit and chat during the “Shocker Show,” as her daughter called it (far less risque than it sounds, it was the electricity display with the huge Van de Graaff generators and such).

She took the opportunity to ask whether I was still feeling depressed, and generally to check in. Jenny and I, along with Carolyn, get together about once a month to have lunch, usually child-free, so she already knows the big, bad series of headlines over the past few months. “How are you coping with it all? Are you functioning OK?”

Well, not great, but I suppose I could be worse. I told her that I’d started Zoloft last week and was still waiting for it to kick in – still hoping that happens before my mother-in-law visits next month – and until then it’s just a case of taking things a day at a time and not giving in to the urge to isolate and avoid.

“I’ve been there, you know that,” she said. “And I want to know if there’s anything I can do, now, to be a better friend.”

It was a statement I really didn’t have an answer to. Because there’s really not anything I can think of. I do enjoy the times when I get out and spend time with people, but the effort of just appearing minimally social and alert – not even the fake-happy that’s needed for casual acquaintances, but the minimally-engaged that is needed for friends and family – takes its toll. Any such outing leaves me exhausted and overwhelmed, no matter who I’m going to see; it’s easier when it’s people I know well, but still difficult.

And I still don’t know the answer, 24 hours later. I don’t know what to tell people, when they ask if there’s anything they can do. Get me my job back. Fix the economy. Take back the half-truths and vague promises Willem received from the financial people back in December so that I wouldn’t have carried around such horrible false hope. Make my back stop hurting. Make my heart stop hurting. Give me a full 24-hour period without crying. Right, I know, no one else can do any of that; if I could, I already would have.

I’m doing what I can, now. I’ve taken on some transcription work, and am slowly but surely plugging away at that so as to insert a few dollars into my slim and lonely wallet. I’m going on a job interview tomorrow. I’m helping Willem with his job applications. I’m following medical advice, for the physical and emotional problems.

And I don’t know what to tell anyone else to do. Not Willem, or the kids, or my friends. I wish I did know what they could do to help, because I know they would feel better to be able to do something – and of course, if it helped, then I’d feel better, too.

So we plug away, and we meet at museums and for lunch, and we do our best.



  1. Boy did you nail it with the toll being out around people takes. I’ve been loathe to go out lately, and you just made me realize why that is.

    Hang in there. It sounds like you’re doing exactly what you need to.

  2. “The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” ~Barbara Kingsolver

    I don’t know what to say right now, but I’m not going away… I love you no matter what!! xo

  3. Thinking of you….thinking of ways to let you know which will NOT take a toll on you….will let you know when I’ve figured it out….

  4. Life can be a bitch can’t it. I’ve just been told by my best friend that I was mentioned in dispatches as a possibility for redundancy. Now I have to work wondering if it’s going to happen, building scenarios on what I should do, look for something else or wait for the payment. Shit happens. I’m not sure what anyone can do about it. Thinking of you.

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