It amazes me how you find out who your true friends really are.
While she was in the hospital we asked people to pray for Mari to get better. And from there it became a snowball effect. We had people praying for her and us all across the country. I would not be surprised at all if there were over a half a million people who were praying for Mari and Keith and I during this time.
When Mari died there were tons of people who were there to support Keith and me. Anyone from family, to close friends, to people from Mari’s school (both past and present), to people from summer day camp (both past and present), to our military family, to our church family, plus many others we did not even know. Some came only to the wake, and some came only to the funeral, while others came to both. There were over 20 vehicles that went from the funeral home to the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet which was about 45 minutes to an hour away. And the vehicles did not just have one or two people in them either. Each and every vehicle was packed. It amazed me to see just how many people loved that 8 year old little girl and yet she did not even know it because she had such severe autism.
Before Mari died I had a friend whom I called my best friend. I have been there for him/her through just about everything you can imagine. When she/he got a call from one of Keith’s sisters to let him/her know that Mari died I never heard from him/her. I did not even receive a card from him/her to let me know he/she was even thinking about Keith and I. My friend did not call to find out how I was. She/He did not call to find out where the funeral was. Just nothing. I finally called my friend about a month after. I left a message and then she/he called me back later. I received a ton of excuses as to why he/she never called. I was incredibly hurt. A month later I still had not heard from my friend again so this time I left a message asking if Mari’s death was just too much for my friend to handle and that my friend just could not talk to me. It might have just been too hard for her/him to handle. I did not understand how this could be since I have always been there for him/her. I get a call back from my friend and he/she says this is just not the case. She/He, again, gave me tons of excuses as to why she/he did not call. I got off the phone with her/him and realized that the person whom I have called my best friend for years was never really my best friend to begin with. A true friend would be there for you no matter how difficult or hard the situation is. A true friend is supposed to be there for you in the best of times and in the worst of times. This would definitely be considered “the worst of times.” It now has been about 2 months since the last time I talk with this person. I have been incredibly hurt to know that someone I loved and cared about so much could just abandon me like this when I needed my close friends and family to be there for me the most. There is nothing else out there that compares to the loss of a child.
I am happy to say that there are other people who have been there for me beyond anything I could have imagined. Shelly is one friend that has been a privilege to know. She has been there for me through so much in the last couple of years that I have known her. She was there at the hospital on a Saturday when it was one of the worst days. They cleared out Mari’s room of everyone except me and I asked Shelly to stay behind with me. She just sat there rubbing my back as I fell asleep beside Mari in her bed. Thank you Shelly. Even my best friend from high school Sofia has been there for me even though she is 2,000 miles away from me back in California where I grew up. Thank you Sofia. Plus the many others that have been there for Keith and myself. You are so loved and appreciated more than you could ever know or even imagine. Just thank you.