Today we have a very special post. This post had been written by the wonderful Faith Evans and is the first in our M.E from the other side series
When Sam, Hilary and I were 13 years old, we held (and indeed perpetuated) many teenage misconceptions:
• Oral sex meant phone sex
• Breaking your ‘VL’ was an essential rite of passage
• Dying in a fire was preferable to being seen in ‘Hi-tech’ trainers
During one of our many girly sleepovers, in between scoffing pizza and popcorn, we’d discuss what the future held for us. Hilary would inevitably go on to be a top model, given her flowing blonde locks and beautiful eye make-up. Me, being the home-bird, would do the whole ‘job, marriage, 2.4 children, retirement, death’ routine. Finally, Sam would travel the world for years, living like a nomad, enjoying amazing and colourful adventures. Little did we know, these musings were nothing more than adolescent fallacy.
For those of you who do not know Sam, she is an extremely unique person. She has 100,000 friends from many different places. She does not like to do anything that people would consider ‘normal’. She is obsessed with Superman. She loves tattoos. She is a dreadful car owner. She is the most loyal person I know. She is energetic and loves to keep fit. A few years ago, it was not uncommon spot Sam jogging past in her converse trainers, barely breaking a sweat. It sounds cliché, but she’s the last person on earth I could’ve imagined this happening to.
Sam’s birthday arrived in October 2010. Hilary and I headed down to her house, pressies in tow, to celebrate her 23rd year on this planet. My first thought was, ‘Who is this corpse and what has it done with my friend?’ No offense intended Sam, but you looked so incredibly ill. Everyone continued to make conversation, expertly ignoring the massive elephant in the room – Sam’s ailing health. We’ve all known her long enough to understand that she is a proud individual who does not like to draw negative attention to herself, so we quietly respected her unspoken wishes.
A few weeks later, I popped into Sam’s work for an impromptu visit. I was met by her good friend Jennifer Gardner who explained that Sam had been taken to hospital that afternoon after taking a bad turn. I wasn’t even surprised that I found out in this manner as – in typical Samantha fashion – she never burdens other people with her problems. I immediately called Hilary to let her know. We exchanged worried conversation and tried to call Samantha – no reply. Sam eventually got in touch saying that her legs ‘were feeling a bit rubbish’ (euphemism anyone?) and that she was being kept in for tests.
The next time I saw Samantha, she was using crutches. Crutches. My fun-loving, energetic, weird, adventurous friend could barely walk. I didn’t show how I was feeling that day, but if I’m honest, I felt sick. I wanted to cry. She could barely put one foot in front of the other. It took about 5 minutes to walk 20 metres. Helpless – the only word that sums up how it feels to watch your closest friend succumb to a chronic illness. No amount of fluffy slippers and ‘Get Well Soon’ cards can make any real difference. You feel like a moron when you let it slip that you’re feeling particularly ‘knackered’ that day. You can’t even bring delicious junk food or choccies to cheer your friend up because of their dietary needs (Demi Moore would go spare!)
So Sam, you’re not travelling the world, Hilary is not modelling and I’m moving away from Scotland. Clearly, life had different plans for us. But I ask you, is this necessarily a bad thing? We are all heading down extremely distinctive, exciting and daunting paths. M.E may have taken away your physical health, but it has not conquered your spirit and amazing personality. You have an incredible ability to transform negatives into positives. You’ve actually used your illness to offer support and encouragement to others. I could burst with pride when I think about your achievements. We’ve been by each other’s sides through thick and thin over the past 20 years, and I will always be there to offer you unwavering support. You’re currently facing a massive hurdle, but never forget that your friends are right behind you, waiting give you a leg up!
Love you a ridiculous amount.