On Furry Friends

Lying in bed in terrible pain in the middle of the night makes for some interesting time to think. Yesterday, I ran out of interesting things to think about. There was still more time to stare at the ceiling, so I started thinking about animals, especially animals that I like.

I’m very fond of Eeyore. In fact, I’m planning on redecorating my room as a vintage library in sophisticated Eeyore style. (I think that means vintage stuff in Eeyore’s colors, but we shall see.) For my college graduation, my dad gave me a small plush Eeyore. He had seen it in the grocery store check-out line months before, and it reminded him of me. I thought that it was very special, but some other family members felt that it was simply too small and not cute enough. So they went to the Disney Store and purchased a regular-sized stuffed Eeyore for my birthday (which happened to be three days later).

Particularly in times of great pain or depression, Eeyore’s always been there for me. He’s been there when no one else has been: those lonely days when I’m stuck in bed and those scary moments when everything seems fleeting. In return, I’ve taken him all over the country to towns big and small. He’s traveled by bus, by train, by car, by air, and more! He’s even been to the sleep clinic with me although I haven’t taken him with me to any doctor’s or counseling appointments (yet).

The one thing I really like about Eeyore is that he has really long ears. I always told my sisters that his long ears mean that he can listen to me; he really knows my heart. My sisters (both younger) like to make fun of my stuffed animal since I’m the only one who still has one, so, in typical Abigail fashion, I turned it all into a parody:

Eeyore loves me, this I know.
For he often tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.
They are weak but he is strong.

Thinking about it as I was lying in bed, it reminded me of my need for quality time with the people I know. The way I characterize my friendship with this stuffed animals is articulated in the same vocabulary: he’s patient, he spends time with me, and he knows me.

With that framework in mind, it’s not surprising that my favorite kind of dog is the bassett hound, also known for long ears. I had forgotten about this bunny on my Amazon wishlist, but he also has long ears. And, it’s probably not surprising that I don’t really like pets or live animals of any kind. I’ve gotten to the point where I can feel a sense of accomplishment if I can walk within five feet of a dog on a leash! Somehow live animals are really less interested in me as a person.

I’ll leave you with a beautiful story of a young pediatrician who takes the time to meet a little boy on his level, and in so doing, performs a physical exam on a teddy bear.

with love,
Abigail Cashelle

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Thoughts on Best Friends

Selly Oak Hospital - Raddlebarn Road - sign - H Hospital
I’ve been thinking about friends a lot recently. I write about friends a lot, but I still feel lonely very frequently. I know that depression can make someone feel irrationally lonely. But I think there’s some rationale to it. Looking back over all my “friend” posts, I’m struck by how many of those friends aren’t the best friend types. Perhaps it’s all characterized by the recurring nightmare I have: what if I get really, really sick??? who’s going to be there for me, take me to endless doctor’s appointments, live with me in the hospital, be my advocate, etc?

In my posts, I’ve realized that there are multiple categories of people:
– awesome girlfriends who drop everything to spend the night or put thoughtful cards in your mailbox
– prayerful friends with open ears and patience: Timothy & Walt in particular
– advocates & friends within the medical community: people like Drs. Leo & Samuel and Elliot
– lifelong best friends who live an airplane flight away: Alana and Tabitha
furry friends such as Eeyore
not to mention the plenty of friendly people who I interact with in daily routine.


While I may not be alone, I don’t know that I have a solution to the hospital scene. The two awesome girlfriends are actually the only people I’ve had drive me to appointments here. But one of the awesome girlfriends just moved to California and the other one will be out of the town or out of the country until late August. Both Alana & Tabitha are visiting this summer, but otherwise I’m stuck with remote friends or people like Timothy or Dr. Leo who are great but not exactly BFF-material. Furry friends have a definite place in my life, but they’re not exactly BFF-material either!! Plus, what if I need to try on a bridesmaid dress (again)? What if I just want to have a movie night or cook with some of my friends? Who’s going to come to that?? Virtual friends aren’t that great for cookie parties.

I’ve been reading Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. In a lot of ways we’re really different. First off, I’m not a married white female (MWF). Secondly, I’m not an irreligious professional woman living in a big city looking for someone to wine and dine with. Thirdly, I do not have the time or energy that Rachel exhibits. 52 dates with 52 different people within a year? Is she crazy?

But I think the central line of the book still rings true. There’s something special about friends that live in the same place as you. There’s also something to be said for the fact that some women are made happy when surrounded by friends that are their own. And being able to be friendly to other people around you? That’s definitely a first step to become a person with best friends (BFF).*

I like Rachel’s intentionality. She is bold to meet new people, to venture into uncharted territory, and to invite people into her home. She’s willing to endure a large number of failed friend-dates in order to meet a real BFF. So many of us complain that it’s hard to have real life friends in this electronic world of technology. While that may be true, how many of us step out of technological bounds to meet people in the real world? Rachel writes,

It’s not that people are less civilized, it’s just that we think they are, and so we act accordingly. We don’t reach out unsolicited for fear of being rejected. We don’t talk to new people because we assume that they don’t want to be bothered. But as I continue to pursue friendships, I’m constantly surprised at how receptive people are.

It takes effort to make friends. After all, I only became close to Alana and Tabitha once I flew or drove out to visit them multiple times. At some point, we got to the point that we talked about everything together. It takes time to get acquainted and to feel comfortable being around someone. And there will be moments when people who should be great friends will let you down. But at the same time, good friends will introduce you to other good people. Timothy and Grace are moving in eight weeks, but, in the mean time, there are great people at their church that they are introducing me to. I don’t need everyone in the world to be my best friend. So perhaps new friendships will sprout where old ones are flourishing.

This long post goes to show that I’m challenged with this notion of friendship. As much as I want BFFs, how can I realize that practically? How can I be myself & be someone’s BFF? But I’m discovering that as much as study and intellectual exercise helps, we learn best by doing.

Refusing to be subdued by the fear of loneliness,

Abigail Cashelle

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*In case you’re like my dad and you don’t know what BFFs are, it stands for Best Friends Forever. Why Forever? Well the acronym “bf” (note the lower case spelling) is already taken by “boyfriend”. To distinguish, we say “BFF” & yes, we really do call each other “BFFs”.

procrastinating sew much

I really should be reading my 50 books, but I don’t feel like it. It’s spring break, and I’ve been thinking about my sewing room (aka office, library, bedroom, healing room all wrapped into one). I’ve filled the wall with a ton of vintage pattern covers. It looks really awesome, although the ones over the bed keep threatening to fall down while I’m resting.

Anyhow, I saw some pretty cool ads while I was compiling my last treasury list on Etsy. So I decided to pull together another treasury list. Mostly because I love vintage ads. (But I don’t have wall space or wallet space for any of them, I don’t think.) Take a look and see what you think.

decorating the historian's sewing room

it had the coolest stitches!!
I started thinking, Where did this interest in sewing come from??? Then I remembered that my dad got me a sewing machine back in the day. I think I was probably 5 or 6 because I remember sharing it with my sister who’s a few years younger. I think my parents got it used, but I’m not really sure. 5 or 6 year olds don’t keep track of that stuff. I know that we threw it away when we moved because all the markers dried up (or were used up by future seamstresses.) Oh the childhood memories!! I think I played with this machine in between cooking at our play kitchen and while (always) playing doggie and master. (My sister had an obsession with dogs, so I learned to integrate “doggie and master” into every single one of my play activities.) I think I “sewed” stuff for my parents and for my furry friends. Yes, that love goes way back as well.

Rambling post about childhood memories and crafting…. Hope it gives you a glimpse into my personality.
Abigail Cashelle

Who I Write About

I write about a lot of people (and some animals too!!) on this blog. People are really important to me, particularly the quality of time I spend with them.

bridesmaids at Bethany’s wedding
I write out of gratitude.
I write from a genuine heart.
I write my own observations.
I write about how people care for me even in little ways.
I write about the people who make up my world.
I write about the people I talk to when things get hard or confusing.
I write about people who are the living, breathing description of friends.

To protect their privacy and my own, I’ve chosen to use pseudonyms for everyone who appears on this blog (except for furry friends.) Some of them I know will never read the words I write. Some of them may be appalled at the blog names I’ve assigned to them. But this gives me the freedom to be genuine, to paint with words a true picture of the amazing people in my life. And it allows me to be honest about the people who (un)intentionally make my life more difficult without having to worry about a backlash.

Abigail

Almost there!!!

It’s been finals season here in the land of graduate school, and I’ve been buried under an avalanche of papers to write and papers to grade. I’m still asking big medical questions, my chronic illness is still forcing me to spend most of my time in bed staring at the ceiling, and the pile of clean laundry is still sitting in a giant pile on the floor because I haven’t had the energy to put it away.

The good news is that I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. All I have to do is to write a ten page paper on a topic I haven’t even begun to think about yet. And I have to finish that by the end of the week. And then I’m done (for the term)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Catch up with you soon,
Abigail

Weirdest Thing about My Health

The more sick I get, the more afraid of live animals I become. It makes very little sense. I suppose that illness makes me more vulnerable, and moving animals are another sign that I don’t have the control over my life that I want. But, like I said, it defies logic most of the time.

Therefore, do not take me to the zoo. Do not bring over your pet to cheer me up. If you take me on a date (or are just generally with me), please position yourself between me and that dog over there (even if it looks like it’s really far away.) And, please, please, please. Do not attempt to recruit me for Paws for a Cause or Pawsitive Outreach.

With that being said, I still love animals. It’s just their motion that unsettles me. (It defies logic, remember?) So this post could also be titled: “The Post in Which Milton Visits the Hospital.” Allow me to explain.

For my birthday, Tabitha purchased this cute & cuddly chocolate bunny featured earlier on the blog. I named him “Milton” after Milton Hershey, the American inventor of the chocolate bar.

Eeyore has been with me on many adventures. He’s toured the country by plane and by car. He’s spent the night in the hospital when I did my sleep study. But he’s pretty big. And, if I don’t want people to think that I’m twelve (which they inevitably do), I can’t really bring Eeyore with me to every doctor’s appointment.

Enter Milton. Milton is smaller. Milton fits in my purse and my bookbags. He’s snuck into a lot of doctor’s appointments and imaging studies that way. And today, he came with me to the hospital.

I needed someone to hold my hand during the imaging study. But (for a long list of reasons I won’t list here) I didn’t ask anyone to come with me. Mostly I was too scared or embarrassed. Milton is not intimidated by anything. And there’s no rule that you can’t bring your stuffed animal with you to an ultrasound or an X-ray or whatever.

So Milton was there for me. He sat on the hospital bed. He watched the tech get prepared for the imaging study. He kept me company while she consulted the radiologist to make sure they obtained sufficient images. He heard the radiologist say something about the images of “the little girl” and was insulted on my behalf. And Milton witnessed that I came home, in one piece.

Weird? Or just another day in the life? You decide.
Abigail

This Week in Summary

This past week has been… a lot of things. I’m feeling very overwhelmed physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually. But I wanted to share a few good things that sustained me through the week:

– attending vespers and seeing Timothy & Grace’s faces light up when they saw me walk in
– spending time to pause and begin a gratitude journal
– the genuine friendship of Timothy & Grace in a time of sincere need on my part*
– receiving a spontaneous gift from Alana that melted my heart because she had taken the time to know me**
– the peace that came with writing a letter to a former coworker in basic training

Even though there are a lot of parts of this past week that I’d love to forget, they build the context for all these moments. The love and the peace that I felt in each of these moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. So, all in all, the time was not wasted.

Humbled,
Abigail

P.S. Perhaps some of these anecdotes could use elaboration:

* Grace texted me a few hours before they came over to my apartment for dinner and asked if they could bring anything. I decided to be assertive and ask for support; I replied that I had everything I needed for dinner, but it would really help me a lot if they could stay a little longer to pray and just hang out. And they did, no questions asked. In fact, Timothy didn’t even blink an eye when I asked him to cut a cantaloupe. I knew that serving it would take all the energy I had, so I just gave him the melon, a knife, a cutting board, and a plate. I know I smiled and laughed the most this week during those hours that they were at my apartment.

** Alana’s gift feels like the first time someone put together a set of gifts that matched me perfectly. It was a small flat rate box. I thought that she was mailing me a birthday present, but when I opened it, it was a bunch of little packages with cards for each package. This is what it contained:
– an Eeyore tank top, which said: Not Blue, Just Thoughtful (because I love Eeyore & the sentiment captures my thought entirely)
– a beautiful headband with dainty flowers
– a set of quilt holders for my quilting projects
– a postcard of a quilt with this note:

These are some little things I’ve gotten over the past couple weeks that made me think of you. I couldn’t wait to give them to you — but you still have to wait until I get there for your birthday present. It seems like so long until then!

I can’t wait until Alana comes to visit on Monday!!

Long day, short post

It’s been a very long day, and I’m really exhausted these days. But, I do have rare news. Remember this medical test? It came back positive. It’s the first test to come back positive since I became a chronic patient nearly six years ago. It means we (Dr. Leo & I) finally have something tangible to treat!!

There’s still a lot unknown and a long road ahead, but I’m happy and thankful for this moment and for the care and support of all my friends who’ve answered crazy medical questions and uplifted prayer upon prayer. As much as it is my own battle to fight, I’m glad for companions to walk beside me.

Exhausted but blessed in so many ways,
Abigail Cashelle