|Posted by Denise on December 2, 2012 at 5:30 AM|
"I loooove women," Carlos proudly announced, pouting his lips out as he outlined a woman's body in the air with his hands.
We all burst into laughter. Bed 38 and 39 were reunited again for my fourth chemo this past Monday. I was having an infusion to increase my extremely low immunoglobin before my chemo when Carlos, a family friend, surprised us with a visit.
He entertained us for a good few hours with stories from his days with beautiful women and his traveling adventures around the world all of which have ended in how God has come through for him. His stories were full of life, full of details. He included sound effects and even acted out some of the scenes. We were all laughing but deep down we were more amazed and impressed with his honesty and vulnerability in sharing his life both past and present and the little details in between.
Before he left he asked us to pray for him and he humbly knelt down as my mom, Raja (Wen Ying's husband), Wen Ying (from afar) and I laid hands on him. It was the first time Raja prayed out loud but it was a prayer so simple and so child like in words and in faith that brought tears to my eyes. He wasn't comfortable praying aloud but inspired by Carlos' openness (my belief), he took the leap of faith and did so (also because Carlos wouldn't take no for an answer). Raja thanked God for Carlos and for the stories he so openly shared, he thanked Him for the laughter and momentarily forgetting life in the present. And then he ended by boldly asking God to heal both his wife and me, claiming God to be the ultimate healer.
Back track a few weeks prior...
The recovery from my third chemo was a lonely time. It was difficult being stuck at home with little to no energy and I felt that people in Hong Kong were just too busy for me or to be bothered with my thoughts or complaints. But God reminded me of His constant presence and was even gracious in blessing me with friends from the past that either came to visit me in HK or reconnected with me through other means.
Dre, Carm and I were often times joined at the hip. We were a 3 for 1 package deal. We have been with each other through highs, lows, break ups, hook ups, bad hair cuts, bad hair dyes, fanny pack days, Modrobe wearing days, arguments with family, arguments with friends, embarrassing 'i wish i were dead' moments, the belly aching, table shaking, cant breathe from laughter moments- life in general was often shared with them. The age difference between the three of us never mattered and as life brought us to different parts of the city and later country and world, we always made a point in meeting up at least once a year. This time one flew from Vancouver and the other Toronto. We laughed and reminisced about the old days and also caught each other up with life in the present. We aren't ones to keep each other updated very often but whenever we do it's as if we were there in each others' lives.
Then came Beccy's email, a dear friend I met from my time in Beijing. During the two years in Beijing, we shared almost every meal together, met at the 'jian bing' stall at 7:30am every morning before riding our bikes to school and shared many great laughs and frustrations over certain 'China days' or incidences. She has since traveled the world and now resides in the states and despite being the extremely busy woman that she is, she has also made every effort to come see me during some of my most difficult moments dealing with this cancer. In both our busyness we also don't get to speak much but a recent incident allowed for us to have what would equate to a several hour conversation but over email.
Another unexpected visitor from undergrad popped on into HK. Since my move to Asia we have probably exchanged a total of 10 messages but when we met our conversation picked up right where we left it- the times when we shared notes in preparation for an exam or shared a drink or two or three or four.
Life and even fundamental beliefs are now different for all of us but the basis for our friendship never changed.
I could go on about my other visitors and the friends (old and new) in my life but the stories would be similar. Whether it's relationships from childhood, undergrad, brief times abroad or friendships made just within the year or two, it is the openness to share as well as the giving of time whether long or short that has been the life force of these relationships.
Sure, sharing a common love for food helps (especially when it comes to being friends with me), as do memories that can keep us laughing into our old age but the one thing all of these friendships have in common is the vulnerable and honest sharing we have with each other. It's in the honesty of sharing not just our joy and successes but also our fears, anger and shame that has brought these people into my life and has kept them there.
As we grow older we become more conscious. There's more baggage to cover up, more pride, more shame, more self awareness and the awareness of the people around you. You can see it even at a very young age. A two year old can ramble on and blurt out the darnest things (often truths) but the older sibling is often the more 'well mannered' one, sitting at the table offering polite and respectful replies to questions asked. I don't know how society has molded us to be so robotic but i think we can all benefit from some child like responses in our adult relationships.
Carlos and Raja were great reminders for me to be child like in both my faith and expressions. The latter doesn't always come naturally but it often just takes one to lay the cards out on the table for the other to follow.
And so since God has blessed me with these beautiful relationships I felt the challenge to choose a relationship in my life that lacks both or either time and vulnerable sharing and work to infuse both of these qualities into it with the hopes that they will be blessed in return.