Going into battle

I have a friend that most people only dream of. She is loving, warm, cheerful and never gets sick of me. She also happens to be my husband’s cousin, his best friends’ sister and is the godmother to our son. We married a year apart and are both on our 3rd pregnancy. In the last 3 or more years we have probably seen each other on average once a week – our lives are now completely entwined.

Last year we were simultaneously flung into battle. We shouldered between us; two children diagnosed with chromosomal disabilities within 2 weeks of each other, the death of a baby, loss of twins to miscarriage, a child undergoing lifesaving surgeries and the death of her brother and my friend thrust upon us. All that occurred in the space of 7 months. In times where you might lean most heavily on a friend to pull you out of the darkness, we had both been thrust into challenges that utterly consumed us.

When she lost her baby – my newborn son went into open heart surgery, and when she lost her brother, once again my son was very sick in ICU and I was suffering through a prolonged miscarriage. In the times she needed me most I wasn’t there – my feet weren’t present on the ground because they were stuck in a hospital. I carried a lot of concern and guilt about not being the friend I’d have liked to be for her at that time. But lucky for me I have a friend who is very strong, she understood that I couldn’t always be there, though I’m sure it must have hurt. I’m sure she wished I could be there with her just like there were days I wished she could be with me.

When soldiers go into battle, they fight shoulder to shoulder, facing forward against a common enemy and both desperate to triumph. Though allies, they cannot give each other their full attention as they are focused on giving all they have to the enemy, even until death to defend themselves and their country.

But when they come home, there is no relationship like that of soldiers who have fought together. No-one has seen what they’ve seen. No-one has lived what they’ve lived. No-one is closer, than they are to each other.

Our battle is one against the sorrows, challenges and pitfalls that life (and particularly Motherhood) throw at us, and we – facing forward – are only able to help each other in short spells when the air is clear before knuckling down for the next round. When our boots are on the ground, we can sometimes see our friend’s chaos in our peripheries but we can’t always hold off our own line to get there in time.

During the midst of our grief I was looking for an answer as to why this had been thrown at us at the same time. Why He had physically torn us apart at those exact crucial moments. It was too coincidental not to be intentional. I remember drawing comfort that when this phase of our life is over, and others around us are consumed in the little things, we’ll be different. We’ll have a shared history that will sometimes go unspoken, but always understood… and I was right.

God certainly knew what he was doing when He gave us each other. Now we enter a new year, and we are both expecting precious new babies due on the same weekend. The weekend of the anniversary of our toughest battle yet, no less. As someone said to us the other day – “You two! You can’t write this stuff”.

For whatever reason, God chose to make life hard for us at the same time, and whilst it doesn’t make human sense, everything occurs when it is meant to. There is always a bigger picture that can sometimes only be understood in reverse.

Now, slowly, as we recover from the year that was, little by little I can see that it had purpose, how it has helped us. I can see our friendship is stronger than it ever was. I know I would be lost in a world of misunderstanding without her.

Just as soldier’s share both the challenges of battle and the triumphs of victory, my friend and I now delight in each other’s wins. The joys of motherhood are shared between us. With every positive for my friend my heart warms. Though our pain we have become an extension of each other and rather than letting our human flaws get the better of us through comparison, judgement or jealousy – we have nothing but love. She is my closest comrade, my sister, my confidant and there is no other relationship like it.

Some things can only be learned by trusting. Who is in your life that was placed there for a reason?

To read our introduction and background story of our son and life with Down Syndrome, click here

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