Hard times will always reveal true friends

Galway mum Ger knows this only too well after her son wa diasgnosed with a terminal illness

There are many, many clichès which we all know of; many that don't ring true at all but there are some which are so true it's hard to believe that a clichè can be absolutely spot on.
I know from speaking with other parents, like me, that I am not alone with this particular truthful clichè-- If you want to see who your real friends are; see who is still there through the hard times  for example; like when your child is diagnosed with a life limiting condition.
I had a great big circle of friends, obviously working outside of the home helped expand this circle. I also had about six very close friends ; two of which I had known since my childhood, my early childhood. We were friends, yes we fought, yes we often went days without talking but we knew we'd be ringing eachother before the sunset on a Friday night, to make plans for our weekend. 
One of those friends left this world far too early and died in a car crash back in 2006; she is still missed to this day. 
That left our group devastated, we all helped each other through our grief and it kept us cemented as a group. 
A year later my house burned to the ground. Luckily, no one was hurt but we were left with literally the clothes on our backs. My girls rallied around, offering as much support as they could, their families wrote cheques and gave what they could from their own homes. I felt lucky, lucky for many reasons; I knew my group of girls were going to be there for me no matter what ; they'd already shown such compassion, empathy and support over two of the most stressful, heartbreaking times in my life and here they were again, holding me as we visited the shell of our rented accommodation to see if D and his mates could salvage anything. Sadly they couldn't, D and I had to start over again, this time with two little boys in tow. 
The following year; I learned what real heartache was. I was told my son was dying and that there was no cure. I was understandably a mess. 
And that's what it took for me to lose friends. My child being terminally ill was no fun for anybody, there was no getting over it and I know I became a shell of my original self. There was only one other mother in our group; the rest were still young, free and single.
I didn't reach out to them. I didn't cry on their shoulders. I stayed indoors, googling every single little thing about Hunter Syndrome. I didn't answer their calls, their emails or their text messages. I wanted the world and my friends to leave me alone to grieve, to be full of self pity and to cry. I barely got dressed back in those early days; there was no way I would meet anybody in public. 
Three of those friends refused to give up on me. 
They showed up at our house, bottles of wine in hand and tissues. With tears in their eyes they begged me to talk to them. And so I did.
One of those girls handed me a piece of paper, "I couldn't come see you until I could be helpful" she said through watery eyes as I began to read the paper. I smiled. It was the first smile I had for anyone in weeks. My friend, T, had found a family who had two boys living with Hunter Syndrome in the UK, and wow, that letter was so positive from their mammy, that I immediately contacted her and we are now, good friends; all thanks to T and her practical help!
T has been my friend ever since the first day of secondary school, when we were both 13 years old and innocent, very innocent! That's 21 years T ! Yes, T and I are both 34 (sorry T!). T has always been a practical person; she seems to have a gift for seeing what needs to be done, (especially in an emergency situation) doing it ,then letting the emotions come after she has done the practical stuff. She amazes me for all she has lived through and how very strong she is. She is one of thee best.  
My other friend S turned off the computer and hugged me, hugged me tightly. S and I have been friends for 19 years and she, for a long time was my only soul sister; life pulled us in different directions, she was young, free and single; three months shy of my 21st birthday I gave birth to Ethan. She travelled; the furthest I got over those years was Dublin, and not for the shopping. She is always there when I need her, all I ever have to do is ask (sometimes, I don't even have to ask) and that brings a comfort only a true friend can give you. She is expecting her first baby any day now and I am almost excited as she is, I cannot wait to see her being a mammy; she will make one hell of a mammy; compassion,empathy, patience, love... it's all hardwired into her DNA. 
The third friend to walk through the door was A; who again I have been friends with for 19 years,she is a mammy, just like me, she has a 13 year old son. A is not a talker. A does not like to make new friends and A is one of the most awkward people I know. But and it is a huge but; A treats my children as her own, she is always in my home; so much so, she does more housework in my house than in her own. Without A, I believe I would have lost my sanity a long time ago...she thinks I am the 'funny one' but truth be told, it's all her, she cracks me up by just being her honest truthful self. I wouldn't change her for the world.
T, S and of course A -- Thank you. 
It isn't enough, I do know that; and one day I do hope I can repay you guys--does this post count towards that?! 
You are my other three sisters; I am so thankful that I sat beside you T, while you ate your 'turkey roll' back in September 1994. 
A, I am grateful ,that you decided to answer my many questions about your Artwork in our junior cert year ; I know now, how hard that was for you and I learned I am hard to ignore! 
And my dear S, you made it so easy to befriend you, the phrase would talk to a wall sums you up perfectly, 1996 was a good year (for me!)
And I am sorry for making you all feel old. 
I shall leave you with this cliche "I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better" (Plutarch)
Thanks girls for being the friends I need x 
Kindly submitted by Ger Renton, who will be keeping us up to date on her crazy family life with Ethan & co.
Follow her on facebook at  "It's me Ethan"  and check out her amazing blog at geraldinerenton.com

Ger Renton

Mammy, Wife, Writer, all round fixer of bruised knees, broken toys...always looks for the smile even through the tears!

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