Marty has always been fiercely loyal to her family and to her friends. Right or wrong she was on your side. Now, if you were wrong in her view, she would tell you, often in very straight words, but she would stand beside you, protect you, and support you, even when others might fall away, Marty stayed. She hated, got emotionally agitated, and at times over reacted when her friends or family were mistreated.
Her strokes have pretty well burned out a lot of the fire and emotion in Marty. She doesn’t get righteously indignant any more. She doesn’t have the same fiery anger or impatience with incompetence she once did. She still recognizes injustice; she still supports her family and friends, she just doesn't swing from the rafters about it anymore. She is much more succinct, and in her brevity and simplicity is just as eloquent, wise and powerful in her support.
I talked to a friend of ours yesterday. This friend has known Marty for years and I have got to know them since Marty’s illness. They are one of the people who make our life better. This friend adds quality and security to our life, this is one of the people who knew Marty as she was, sees her as she is now and embraces her and helps her be stronger and healthier. It’s a friend who, because of she is and because she does what she does, makes the life of a stroke patient and her husband just a tad bit easier.
In our phone conversation yesterday this friend laid out what had been happening in their life recently. They had been mistreated in a way that anyone who heard the circumstances would find awful. They had trusted and had their trust misused, they had reached out and offered part of themselves and essentially been repudiated for their vulnerability. It’s simply sad to see a friend treated so shabbily. I listened to the story intently, commiserated and sympathized and largely felt inadequate to offer solace to our friend. We hung up.
Marty, as she often does when I get off the phone, said, “What?” It’s her way of saying, "Tell me about it stud" (Loved that line in Grease).
I related what had transpired with our friend and Marty summarized her opinion in one word, “Boo.” I don’t think I have to interpret, but for Marty, who often communicates in one word soliloquies “boo” is a supreme sign of disapproval. I confessed how ineffective I thought I was at sympathizing and offering solace in situations such as this and I asked her what she thought was the best way to help someone.
Again, succinct and unfailingly straight, she said simply, “Say, I’m sorry.”
How right she is. This is not “I’m sorry” because I did something I regret. This is not the “I’m sorry” throw off line to stop the conversation and move on to something more comfortable. This is not commiserating about how you know how someone feels, because you never do unless they tell you. This is plainly and simply telling someone you care, that you wish life had not taken them in this direction, that you are sorry they must experience this type of pain from life.
It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s meaningful, and it’s sincere. Marty always knew how to be a friend; she always knew how to care. She spent years teaching me how to be a better husband, father and friend; and she is still my best guide and advisor.
To our friend, please know, we are sorry.