In some ways, after years of being chronically ill, I have found myself becoming s somewhat cynical of the world around me. It is not something I set out to do, and it is an attitude I try to repress, but years of discouragement and disappointment take their toll.
Friendships that you thought would last a lifetime come to a quiet end as life for them continues and you remain an frustrated prisoner of pain. Caught up in the excitement of a big new world begging for them to explore, the idea of visiting an old school chum locked in time soon loses its appeal. Thoughts of that old friend are replaced with the joy of reaching new milestones such as graduating from college, getting the first job, dating, marrying, buying a home, and having children. And without meaning for it to happen you have been reduced to a memory entitled “What was her name again.”
Alone, locked in a world that for all your companions ended in grade school, and forgotten by all those you held so dear, it is tempting to forget all that was good about those precious few days of fun, those wondrous days of freedom before the chains of pain bolted you to the floor. And there is a danger that self-pity and envy with their sly hands will hold up the broken bonds of friendship as they seek to lure you into believing that their friendship was untrue and their kindness tainted by selfishness.
On the days I was well enough to pace my small room, looking longingly out of my window at the big blue sky, my heart full of wishes that I fear will never be, there were times that I was tempted to forget the blessings that brief hour of friendship has given my soul. To forget that if I were in their place, I might do as they have done. For with my dreams of medical school I would not have had any more time than they to visit a lonely semi-invalid.
And I have to stop and ask myself if caught up in the excitement and wonder of pursuing my dreams, would I have been willing to pause to visit the ghost of yesterday? To visit someone who knows nothing of the life I live. Who cannot share my concerns and frustrations of working long hours, the worry of meeting deadlines, the headache of making a living, and the challenge of raising a young family.
With a heavy heart I realize that through no fault of our own, our friendship was doomed. Doomed to failure because I am still in many respects that shy girl sitting on the swing setting waiting for life to happen, and they are part of that big wide world that fills my dreams and stirs my heart with deep longings.
Then, with a painful mixture of joy and regret I look back upon those carefree days when hope was my world. When I looked forward with pounding anticipation to the day that I would graduate from doll houses and swing set to keeping a house of my own, and with a prayer of thanks I try and remember the good moments that once brought a smile to my face. With care I reflect upon those childish faces that by now must bare a few unwanted lines of age, and tenderly remember the small gestures of kindness, the sweet tokens of friendship that gave me courage to face each school day.
It is out of these gentler emotions, tempered by the realization that life, not hate or coldness have separated our paths, that A Word of Thanks was written. My simple way of paying homage to the memory of those whose simple acts of kindness once put a smile on my face.
When you read this simple poem, I hope it will bring back pleasant memories of those who might only have crossed paths with you for a moment, but for that short hour their friendship brought joy to your heart and helped to lighten life’s heavy burden.
A Word of Thanks
By Katherine B. Parilli
A many thanks I say for all the things you have done. For the good times and the bad when you have been the only one who stuck around and lended a hand. Or said a word or two that made the day a happy one.
A friend in good. A friend in bad. You have put rainbows in my path.
My life is blessed because of you. For all the little things you have done my heart says thank you. Your deeds have not gone unheeded. So even though I do not know what to say or how, I appreciate what you have done.