Today Summer of Feminista welcomes Lisa Quinones-Fontanez. She is an award winner blogger. Her blog, Atypical Familia, is a personal blog and family lifestyle site with a focus on autism parenting and work/life balance. Her writing has been featured on several websites including Huffington Post Parents, Yahoo Shine and KatieCouric.com. Lisa is also a contributing writer at Parents.com and Babble.com.
“All you need is one good friend,” my mother used to say. But as a teenager, I liked being surrounded by friends. Going out in groups to the movies, the mall or just hanging out in the park looking at boys - the more friends I had around me, the safer and less lonely I felt. It was all about quantity, quality was an afterthought.
My mother also encouraged independence. If I had to go the mall or library for something, my first instinct was to phone a friend to come with me. “Go by yourself and do what you have to do. You don’t always have to go with a friend.” But I liked having the company.
As I got older, my circle of friends narrowed. We all went our own way – off to school, pursued careers, got married, had children. I learned to do things on my own. And I appreciated one-on-one dinner conversations with a good friend.
After my son was diagnosed with autism, my circle of friends shrunk some more. Having a kid with any kind of disability naturally narrows the people you depend on. Our lives revolved around therapists, doctor appointments and evaluations. And I welcomed any kind of time alone.
Four summers ago, I was pregnant. During my 16th week OB-GYN visit I learned that I suffered a missed miscarriage. And I needed to have surgery the following day. My husband was unable to accompany me. I told my mother and my best friend that I was fine going alone.
When I showed up at the hospital, my mother was waiting for me. She held my hand and stayed with me for as long as she could. The following week, I had to be admitted into the hospital my best friend, Marlo, showed up. We had known each since high school. We vacationed together in South Beach and Jamaica; we even lived together at one point. But we weren’t mushy friends – exchanging cards declaring our love or importance of our friendship. We had seen each other through first loves, breakups, marriages, baby showers and the birth of our children. It’s easy to be friends with someone during those times. Those are the times you want the company.
Losing a child, all I wanted was to be left alone. But Marlo remained with me throughout the day – bringing me ice, reading through celebrity gossip magazines, helping me to the ladies room, making sure my IV wires didn’t get tangled.
Marlo let me cry, something I had a hard time doing in front of everyone else and something I didn’t want to do alone. I told her through out the day that she didn’t have to stay with me, that I would be okay if she left. Marlo knew – without personally knowing – what I was feeling. Marlo didn’t feel compelled to console me or tell me that it will be okay. She didn’t offer cliché sentiments. She just let me be.
There are times in our lives when we want company and when we need it. A good friend will know the difference.