Reconnecting With Old Friends and Other Personal Callings

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by Ari Anderson |

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sma technology | SMA News Today | Main graphic for "Soaring With Hope," a column by Ari Anderson

At first glance, my life may seem unusual. The more people get to know me, though, the more they’ll see that I share many of the same problems and emotions that most others have.

Like everyone, I’ve experienced the death of loved ones. But I’ve also experienced loss in a different way. As I begin to describe this, though, it might seem like a strange concept. But hopefully, the more you read on, the more you’ll be able to relate.

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It’s not easy having a revolving door in my home. By that I’m referring to the home healthcare workers who enter and leave my life. To put this in perspective, I’ve had over 1,000 nurses in the past 36 years. Of those, about 30 have been very special to me.

I’ve written before about how these special nurses enter my life in unexpected ways. When they work with me for several years, expressing their love and kindness, they seem to earn their place as an honorary family member.

Yet no matter how close we become, it’s never a match for the call of nature that inevitably arises. This could come in the form of wanting to try another career. Or, perhaps they want to live somewhere else where they feel more comfortable. Ten years ago, one special home healthcare worker, who lived here in North Carolina for just a couple years, moved to New York. A decade later, she is still happily living there.

Think about how the following feels: You regularly experience the joys and sorrows of life with someone almost every day for 12 hours at a time. Then, abruptly, that connection is gone when the person moves hundreds or thousands of miles away.

This isn’t the same as when someone passes away, because you know they’re alive and out there somewhere. Yet, when you seldomly hear from them, it almost feels like they’ve just disappeared.

Fellow SMA News Today columnist Halsey Blocher recently wrote about the loss of loved ones due to death. While that’s not exactly what I’m talking about, it really resonates with me when Halsey says she likes to “soak up the pleasure of every second with the people I love.”

Can you relate now?

I’m not trying to upset anyone. I work on getting to the hope in every situation. So here it goes: Try to forgive people you used to be close to when they hardly contact you anymore. One universal truth is that most of humanity is bad at staying in touch. This also applies to friends of mine who aren’t in the medical field. It even applies to myself. There have been times when I’ve dropped the ball of communication.

All we can do is work to improve our own habits. When we do this, hopefully, it will influence others to replicate our better manner of communicating.

I know it’s hard to travel right now due to the pandemic. But don’t let that get in the way of calling or virtually meeting with someone as soon as you can. I know it can be really difficult to put aside pride and hurt feelings, but it feels much better to tell someone how much you miss them and that you still care about them.

Maybe you’ll discover that while you were waiting for them to contact you, they were waiting for you to contact them!

If these attempts fail, at least you’ll know you did everything you could.

So am I following my own advice? A few months ago, I started contacting someone I hadn’t heard from in a long time. This influenced them to contact me more as well. I may have to take it upon myself to keep the communication flowing, but that’s OK.

There is another way I find hope in this situation. Just as nurses feel that call of nature to try other things, I have my own calling that is just as strong. My work in legislative advocacy and my partnerships with senators prompted a craving for something more. I feel the urge to one day testify before Congress about the need for more funding for home healthcare.

It’ll take a lot of hard work to accomplish this, and as fellow columnist Kevin Schaefer says, striking a “balance between determination and contentment is often challenging.” That’s a whole other story.

Let’s reinvigorate those lost relationships and listen to our own callings. It will help us to become a more whole person!

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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