Christmas is a time for remembering old friends, but sometimes it can also bring back some sad or unpleasant memories. Seeing a former friend’s name in my address book reminded me of something that happened a few years ago…
After my sudden deafness in my ‘good ear’ in 2011, I could no longer use our telephone or my mobile for calls. Some friends were accommodating, converting our communication to text, email or social media but, sadly, others weren’t so accommodating.
One such friend had emigrated and when I could no longer call her, our communication dwindled. (She was not very good at replying to emails and eventually, I gave up trying to keep in touch.) It was only when she started to plan her wedding that she got back in touch with me. She had decided to marry her fiancé abroad and then return to England for another ceremony — and we were invited to attend the UK ceremony and party.
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I developed pleurisy and by the day of the wedding I was really very ill. It was going to be a long drive and we weren’t staying at the venue overnight but I was determined to be there for her (second) big day.
On the day itself, I was feeling really poorly but I got dressed in my wedding outfit with every intention of attending. And then I looked at myself in the mirror: I looked like dreadful. I was as white as sheet with big, dark circles under my eyes and I just could not stop coughing. It was clearly a ridiculous idea to go to a winter wedding in a castle in this condition.
I texted the bride to say that I was really sorry but I wasn’t well enough to go to the wedding. She’d known for days how ill I was, so it would not have come as a total surprise. She replied saying it was a shame but that she understood and hoped I’d get well soon.
Then a few days later, out of the blue, I received some very upsetting texts from her. Without going into too much detail, the gist of it was that she was angry that I hadn’t called her and that I had ‘only texted‘. She said I should have asked my husband to call her at least.
I tried to explain that texting wasn’t a ‘lesser’ form of communication for me but that it was all I had. I never heard from her again.
And, when I thought about it, why would I ask someone else to call for me when I was perfectly capable of communicating for myself? Asking my husband to call on my behalf literally never crossed my mind. Her attitude smacked of the old, “Does she take sugar?” attitude to disability and it was the first time I had come across this and I was so upset.
It’s sad when things like this happen, but people do say that when times are tough, that’s when you know who your real friends are, and I guess that’s true. Another friend said to me that losing a friend makes room for you to make a new (and hopefully better) friend and, looking on the bright side, I now have many new friends in my address book who accept me for who I am, regardless of my disability, so I guess that’s true too. If something similar has happened to you, please don’t feel sad; new friends are out there waiting to be discovered!
This is me wishing you a Happy Christmas — not in person or by phone, but electronically — but it’s a heartfelt wish all the same. Happy holidays, everyone!