Thursday, September 2, 2010

Online or On My Couch, My Friends Rule

This past weekend, I spent a perfect few days with Vicki and Palmer - two of my very best friends. Having all met in college, they've both been true gifts in my life. For the first time, I know what unconditional friendship feels like. We laugh, we cry, we act like total goofballs (take these photos for example) and they're just always behind me. Although it was undoubtedly "my turn" to visit, they remind me there are no turns. Vicki (who currently lives in Boston) and Palmer (who lives in Maine) drove many hours without hesitation simply because they wanted to. They know what I've been up against this summer and so they just came. Incidentally, the steroids I'm being given before I start Remicade kicked in on Saturday and so I was able to really enjoy our time. See my smile? It's as real as they come...
Jackie and me at the US Open
summer 2009

My parents finally got away this weekend, so when Vick and Palmer took off,  Jackie came to spend the night.  We capitalized on the pain-free day by going for a little walk down my street (something I haven't done in months). We talked, laughed, grabbed some dinner and did some arts & crafts. Jackie is not only one of my oldest friends, but she's also one of the most kind-hearted women I've ever known. Time and again, she's been there for me in a pinch and, while we've weathered some pretty important ups and downs over the years, we're clearly much stronger for it. 
And for anyone who thinks online friends can't turn into "real friends", I present to you Exhibit A:

Lovely Kate,
summer 2010
I mentioned Kate Brabon briefly in this June post, but since then our relationship has become something that's hard to capture in words. We share the same diagnosis, but that's really just the tip pf the iceberg. Kate lives just outside of Melbourne, Australia and so, while we couldn't be geographically further, we've grown closer by the day while talking on Skype, writing multiple letters a week, and sending care packages when we needed them the most. The photo above is a compilation of all my "Kate goodies" from this summer - complete with souvenirs from her recent trip to England, a Yoga DVD (to try on better days), a wombat key chain (whom we've named Waldo) and my prized, silver koala necklace. To add to the reality of our friendship, Kate just booked a flight to New York for her first visit to the States!!!!!! She'll be staying with me for 12 days this Fall and I literally couldn't be happier. Stay tuned for Kate's "Spotlight" on Loving With Chronic Illness. She's someone you'll be better for knowing (I certainly am).

And now Exhibit B:

On Tuesday, these amazing sunflowers arrived at my doorstep! Turns out, they were from Betsy, a reader and friend I first wrote about in this July post. Aside from coping with Spondylitis, Betsy is a wife, a mother of two gorgeous boys, an avid volunteer, and will also be starting her masters in Social Work this Fall. She has become a very supportive friend  and I even had the chance to meet her this August when she travelled to the Big Apple.  We spent a great day together, beginning with Betsy's photo shoot for Jodi McKee's portrait project (post coming soon). Later, we shared stories, a New York Pizza at Patsy's, and a famous Serendipity's frozen hot chocolate. Betsy, thank you for my favorite flowers and the crucial reminder attached: "Dear Maya, Keep your face to the sunshine and you'll never see the shadows." 

Betsy, me & Jodi
post-photo shoot in NYC
Cathy at the beach with her kids
and feeling good
I've also connected with Cathy who writes The Life and Adventures of Cateepoo. She's a wife, a mother of two loving children, a part-time ESL teacher, and a strong believer in alternative medicine. She writes openly and beautifully about her battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis and, although she was reluctant to start Enbrel (the first injection I was on), she's found great relief from it. Her latest post recounts the profound changes in her quality of life. " There are times during the day," she writes, "that I move my body ever so slightly and think wow that was easy. It reminds me of when my kids were little and every little thing was new to them." You know when I realized Cathy was a "real friend?" The same moment I felt real joy from her success. Cathy, here's to many, many more pain-free days!
New or old, Near or far, online or on my couch - I treasure each one of my friends. I'm a lucky girl.



  1. maya, i am better for knowing you. let's hope the good days continue--fingers crossed. with love and hope, betsy

  2. you are so awesome. your happiness is contagious!

  3. Maya this post is another lovely show of what a wonderful friend YOU are-you are so appreciative of all the good things in life, and deserve nothing more than to feel lucky!
    I agree Jodi-the happiness is contagious!
    love you & hoping for good days <3
    Kate x

  4. you and betsy are so blessed to have found each other. you have brought betsy such hope for her future. and she has such a wonderful gift: herself. she gives and gives and doesn't expect anything in return.

    another lucky friend of betsy's

  5. What a lovely post :)

  6. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You made my day including me in your list of online friends. I felt from the first time I read your blog that we would somehow be connected. I love how you find beauty all around you.

    I love the pictures of you smiling. You can tell it is the real thing. :)

  7. Betsy: You are too sweet. You have my love and hope always too.

    Jodi: Coming from an awesome lady like yourself, that means a lot. Let's be happy together soon! Sarabeth's is calling our name.

    Kate: Thank you babe, I love you very much and am hoping for the same days for you. Pretty soon we'll be spending them together!!!

    To Betsy's friend: What a sweet testament to the friend that Betsy has been to so many. I hope you'll keep reading :)

    Emily: YOU are lovely

    Cathy: Thanks so much for your words always. You have come to mean a lot to me and I look forward to getting to know you even more

  8. Hello Maya

    I'm a new follower, I got your link from SAA Facebook.

    I too live with Spondylitis, (AS)and in the last couple of days have read all of your posts since you started blogging.

    I just wanted to tip my hat to you for putting so much of yourself into this blog. You are truly an inspiration.

  9. Vic,

    I was thrilled to read your comment today and thank you so much for your kind words. It's comforting to connect with people like you who truly understand. If you feel like it, don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail sometime so I can get to know you more. I hope you'll keep reading and thanks for making my weekend!

    All my best,

  10. wow very nice but in my opinion the best freindds are those who give the respect to the differences..

    thanks for sharing the nice stuff and collection the comments...

  11. you are really awesome and your post is too much so thanks for sharing..

  12. wow amazing post so congrats to you on your excellent success.