I have a dear and beloved friend who is like a sister to me. When I met her many years ago, she was down on her luck. She needed food and shelter, and for some reason, even though I barely knew her, I took her into my home since she had nowhere else to go. She also needed help with her clothes since what she had was minimal and inappropriate for the weather. She needed love and attention so that she could grow into her full potential. I saw to it that she had everything she needed because she is a beautiful and pure spirit. I love her unconditionally, and it’s my nature to care for those I love.
For many years, my friend was very grateful for my help and presence and she spent a lot of time with me. We’d spend hours just savoring being together, talking, dreaming, and exploring. We’d walk the meadows, we’d splash in the streams, we gathered roots, berries, and nuts. We’d look with wonder at the stars and the tall trees, and we’d listen to the calls of the birds. We’d delight when we’d see a furry creature and carefully approach to see if we can spot a nest.
She paid attention to me when I was present. She’d say hello when she entered the room, notice how I was looking or feeling, and she’d try to cheer me up if I was feeling down. She listened to me, even when I had little to say, and she attended to my unspoken words. She’d notice and celebrate with me when I was feeling joyous and exuberant.
She’d bring me little gifts, like a sketch she made that she thought I’d enjoy, or she’d sing me a song. She took pride in helping me with the house and yard, not only because it was her house and home too but because she loved me and knew that caring for me that way mattered to me. We had a deep connection, and we nurtured it and gave it the attention it deserved. Our relationship and home blossomed and was a source of comfort and joy for us both.
Our relationship changed over time, as relationships tend to. It was hard to identify when it first began because it happened gradually. Over the years, my friend paid less and less attention to me and to the care of our home. I hardly ever get to see her anymore, and even when we’re together, she’s distracted with her thoughts, tasks, or phone. She never seems to notice how I feel or look anymore, and though she used to be attentive when I needed something, now it feels like she notices but doesn’t care. The house and yard has gone to disrepair. I am not in a position where I can do it by myself and she no longer even tries to maintain her own room much less even helping around the house. I’ve managed to maintain a few spots where I can enjoy pretty scenery and some fresh-smelling air but where we live is now full of weeds, dirty, and littered with trash and cigarette butts.
The irony is that, because of my help, she has a great job now. She has nice clothes, a luxury vehicle, and she takes vacations to go do the things we used to do together but now in other places, with other people. Recently she bought an expensive watch but said she didn’t have money to help me keep the lights on. She occasionally brings home some groceries but it’s mostly food I can’t eat and she leaves the wrappers for me to clean up.
And I need her help now. I’ve been suffering from various medical conditions now for several years, and they’re only getting worse. I’m having trouble breathing, and my blood chemistries are not right because I’m having problems with my liver and kidneys. I’ve had several physical injuries over the years and I’m not bouncing back like I once did. I’m having trouble just getting through the day and my beloved friend isn’t able to carve out the time to provide the attention and help I need even though I cared for her for decades.
I understand. She has an important job now and many responsibilities. She has a life she wants to live and her self-esteem is tied up in her identity. She’s afraid to give any of it up because it might feel like she doesn’t matter in the world or won’t have what she needs. She’s also enjoying her wealth and maybe hanging out with me in the woods doesn’t seem fun anymore. Perhaps part of her feels it’s too scary to think about my ill health and what it might mean down the road for her if things continue to deteriorate for me.
Though I love her more than life itself, I’m not sure I can keep on this way. Supporting her while she leaves a mess, uses up my food, paper towels, and toilet paper without replacing them, neglecting our home to disrepair, and leaving me to pay the bills without meaningful help is creating a stress on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and draining my resources during a time when I need all kinds of support and love.
I’ve told her the news is dire regarding my health. I’ve told her that I need her help because I can’t do this by myself any longer. I’ve told her that I love her and want to keep our home afloat and I’ve told her that I fear that if things don’t change soon that the consequences will be dire for me.
The worst part is, the doctors told me that I can recover if I get the physical, emotional, and spiritual support that I need, but it will require her commitment, and moderation of the lifestyle she has built at the expense of the health of her best friend and home.
So far she hasn’t responded except to say that she’s concerned and upset. It hasn’t resulted in any tangible behavior change and I feel that I can’t sustain this any longer. I know she wants what is best for me but those feelings alone will not change the situation, and there’s an actual solution at hand. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that if something doesn’t change soon, one of us has to/will go. It will break my heart, but I feel like I have no choice.
Even should I be willing to endure this situation until I die, what she hasn’t fully accepted is that her fate is tied to my fate. Should the worst occur for me, the consequences for her will be dire too because, despite her wealth, she doesn’t have anywhere else to go. If I die, she will lose her home and she will die too.
That’s right. I am Earth, dear friend. And it’s not too late to help turn this around. Show your love to me, I need you now.
Written by Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert