“Oh, wow, I had no idea”

Title got your attention? Good. How many times have you said this? How many times have you heard this? I have said it a few times – I have heard it ad nauseam. Oh, wow, I had no idea. Granted, sometimes the wording is different. Being polite, I rarely answer the way my gut wants me to, which is a simple “Why?”. You are three houses down from me – why didn’t you know? You claim me as a friend – why didn’t you know? You mean you didn’t notice when I vanished off the face of the earth?  When my weekly appearance abruptly ended? When my truck didn’t pass your house daily? When I wasn’t at the kid’s school functions?

The best time (and I am being SO sarcastic here) to hear this is at a funeral home. “Oh, wow, I had no idea he/she was sick?” These are usually followed by claims of how close a friend they were, or worse family member, and the pathetic excuses of how busy life is. Um, sorry. You were not too busy to be here at this funeral home – where were you when they were alive? When they drug themselves out of bed to go to the grocery store because after 8 phone calls they couldn’t find someone to go for them. When they got up and drove themselves to the doctor, because no one had time to take them. When they lay in the hospital for 8 days and had NO visitors, except a spouse or child. I understand busy – believe me I do. I have three children – ages 29, 28 and 20. My 29-year-old is severely handicapped from birth, and requires 24/7 care. My 28-year-old is married, with one child who is autistic and a second child due mid-March, and she lives across the yard from me and helps me, as I help her. My 20-year-old is a sophomore in college. My husband is wheelchair bound and can no longer drive. Which leaves me – 50 years old, not in prime condition myself, to care for them, and myself. So what am I doing? Well, right now I’m working on admission to a 4 year university for a degree in social work, as well as caring for them, helping people as a patient advocate as I can, taking care of me, and running a household. So, yep, I think I kinda know what busy is. My 18 hour days are nothing. I still find time to help people, check on people, and do for others (although I frequently get told not to worry, I have enough on my plate). So when you tell me you are busy – too busy to even spend 3 minutes on a phone checking on someone, but you can spend 30 minutes at the funeral home after they are gone???

Even when it’s just in the aisle at the grocery store, is it the truth? Sometimes, I know, you really had no idea. Some people keep things very quiet, while others (let’s face it) you simply don’t keep in touch with for whatever reason. But there are plenty of times when this phrase just slips out because “Well, I knew about that but I honestly didn’t want to take time out of playing Candy Crush Saga every day to call and see how you were” just doesn’t quite sound sympathetic (even if it is true). Not that you have to call every day. Once a week. Once every two weeks. Shoot me a PM on Facebook. Comment on a status – you sure can comment on the status the television station posted (see, Facebook shows me these things). You also have plenty of time to share the “Top 10 Home Remedies for Fleas” or that oooey gooey recipe for cinnamon rolls (that we both know your diabetic diet does not support) – but you had NO idea (even though it’s actually been in my status) that there were major health issues going on here? Send me a text. I will know you thought of me. But, contrary to anything you may have read, or heard, I am not psychic. I don’t KNOW when you are thinking about me. I really want to believe when you tell me “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately” – but since its been 3 years since I’ve actually heard from you, how realistic do you think that sounds?

Just in case you think I am simply being a horrid, awful person and trying to step on toes – the first toes under this boot are my own. I’m guilty. Not as guilty as I used to be, with my firsthand knowledge of how it feels to not have the phone ring. For days. Weeks. No texts. No calls. The only emails are those promising “lose 10 pounds in 10 days” or “you are the 150th cousin of a person who died in a car crash in Abu Dhabi and if you send us your banking info, we will deposit $3.4 million as soon as we receive your processing fee of $300.” When you are healthy, and busy, you are happy when your phone is quiet, and those emails are annoying. It’s so easy to go days, weeks, months, without even realizing you haven’t checked in on someone you know isn’t doing well.  Those reading this who get calls from me – what am I doing 99% of the time when I call – yep, I’m driving. That’s my quiet time – when all I have to do is watch the miles roll by. I multitask in my sleep – did you know that? Yep, my cholesterol medicine works while I’m asleep – so I’m multitasking (plus that is when my computer does its updates, yet another thing I get done while I sleep).

So – we have established I know you are busy. I know you have a life. So do people with life threatening, terminal, or life altering illnesses. The litany list – yep, you know it already – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, MS, any of the muscular dystrophies, lupus, depression, fibromyalgia – you name it, if it is an illness that changes the way you live, it fits. Yesterday was World Cancer Day. One day a year set aside to remember all the myriad of cancers, and say yet again we need to do more to eradicate this horror. All the other diseases have their days – some even have months! Some cancers have their own month (which will be a whole separate post at some point). Are you, sitting comfy in your office chair with your clean bill of health, seriously of the opinion that one day a year is all those who have these diseases think about them? Newsflash – they think about them every waking moment. They dream about them. They would give anything to have 30 minutes free from them. Now I know, many of you realize this. But really – a bunch of us turned our profiles purple yesterday for cancer awareness. I noticed by 9 this morning many had already switched back. They did their part – they will do it again next year. We need to be aware of these diseases every day. We need to check on those family members, coworkers and friends who have them. If nothing more than a quick call or email – let them know that they are in your thoughts. Keep them on your prayer lists at church. Not just as a name, but check in for updates – be they positive or negative. Lets each do our part, and eliminate the saying “Oh, wow, I had no idea” from our standard of conversation.

Thank you for your time in reading this. If you wish, feel free to share. Lets all be a little more aware.

This entry was posted in awareness, cancer, compassion, depression, diabetes, disability, family, friends, illness, life, lupus, major illness, malignant neoplastic disease, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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