I have had many dear friends through the different seasons of my life and I’m acutely aware that in my current season, it takes a warrior to stand by my side. Despite my recent decision to blog about my life of raising a child with special needs and his two sisters, I keep our personal life struggles pretty private. I’m not sure this strategy lends well to maintaining close friendships. I’m sure friends feel blindsided when we make certain decisions, cancel plans, move an hour away, quit an activity, start new activities, change the kids’ school or go silent for weeks. But one thing is certain, every friendship is reflected on – most with great appreciation and love, some with sadness, some with personal regret, some with confusion and some with complete understanding of the inevitable, developed distance.

I rarely talk about how bad “it” really is because saying it out loud is hard for me to even hear. I rarely ask for help because the feeling of needing “a favour” weighs heavy and trying to explain why we need help, requires me to open-up about things that are uncomfortable.   

Sometimes I start opening-up and catch myself because it feels like a slippery slope toward the abyss of how tough and unreal my life really is. I choose to keep certain details to myself because it’s fucking hard to face sometimes. And if I’m viewed as shirking responsibility, letting someone down, not showing up, bailing or taking the easy road, I can assure you that I’m not taking the easy road – this journey is not easy and it’s hard to share.

I’m not complaining…there are so many beautiful parts of our life. These are the parts I choose to share but occasionally this even backfires when it comes to friends. I unintentionally set a stage of happiness, accomplishment and means to enjoy life and I believe that this often paves the way for assumptions that are skewed or inaccurate which ends in disappointment. I may appear to have it all together but there are a lot of balls in the air and it doesn’t take much for one to drop.

Parenting two busy girls and a little boy who has such specific and unpredictable needs is a juggling act. I often have to cancel my commitments or things that I love to make sure my children get what they need.

After William was born, I didn’t go back to work and my whole existence revolved around him – it still does!    

More recently, I have wanted to go back to work and have even been asked to accept positions but when working through the details or trying to figure out a way, inevitably something comes up or I’m faced with the impossibility. What employer would accept regular sick days, regular medical appointment days, and regularly being told I can’t come in because I don’t have childcare?

When I can feel my world shifting there is an ache that starts to radiate. Shifts in my world inevitably come with some level of heartache. As the kids’ passions and opinions change so do their dreams and goals. When William’s health needs change or support services change so do our distribution of resources, including my time. I often find myself having to make decisions that have a rather large ripple effect – often friends won’t whether my storms.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would lose close friends because of my decisions around supporting my daughters to follow their dreams – but I have.

I never thought I’d lose friends because William needs to stay home and we don’t have alternate care for him – but I have.

I never thought I’d lose friends because I couldn’t seem to emotionally handle attending a baby shower – but I have. I still haven’t been to a baby shower since I lost my daughter.

I never thought I’d lose friends because I’d agreed to more than I could handle and needed to ask for help – but I have.

It takes time to work through the disappointment I feel when friends let me go. It’s tough to feel like you have let someone down despite your best attempt at preservation. There are, however, a few warrior men and women who accept the challenge of being my friend. These people see that I’m only human, accept that everyone makes mistakes and realize that everyone must make sacrifices that aren’t easy. They choose to assume that I make decisions that consistently align with our family’s needs and priorities and accept that our friendship is a priority but that sometimes things come up despite my best efforts. They give me and my family grace to work through the challenges and welcome us back when we have our heads back above water. Our family is forever grateful for those who give us unconditional friendship.

~ Keely

Keely is an author and advocate for children living with disabilities. She lives on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia, with her husband, her son William who has cerebral palsy, her two daughters and several four-legged friends.