These two questions have been on my mind for a long time, long before I ever lost my precious son Frankie. I’ve always treated everyone as I would want to be treated myself, and in a lot of cases, I was far too trusting of others and I got burnt massively, which upset me greatly. I live in a, probably too idealistic, world where I hope and believe that people are nice, supportive, kind, tolerant and non-judgemental of others, and every time I find out that this is not the case it upsets me greatly.
Unfortunately today I find that very few people have time for anyone else, or any respect, kindness or compassion for others, and the world we live in today is all very much “me, me, me”. Now I have to stress that not everyone is like this, I have luckily come across some absolutely wonderful and amazing people who I am proud to call my friends, and who I would do anything for anytime they need help. But it took losing Frankie to come to some big realisations about the people in my life, and some even bigger realisations about people that were in my life but who were a bit more distant from me, if that makes sense. These people are not distant anymore.
Just before I lost Frankie I was betrayed by people who I thought were my friends, and it was a very upsetting time to realise that these people who I held in high regard could be so hurtful to others. After I lost Frankie, messages of sympathy came in thick and fast from some of them, and one or two even came to his funeral, but it felt so false. There was also an absence at his funeral of a few people who I thought were my friends, there were excuses such as “can’t get time off work”, “can’t get childcare” etc, and I never heard from them ever again. By contrast, there were people at his funeral who I thought of as only being passing acquaintances, and who I am now very good and close friends with.
Every bereaved parent I have ever spoken to has said the same thing, that when they lost their baby or child, it showed them first hand who their real friends are and who was important to them. Cue the exit of people they thought were friends, and the entrance of people who became friends. This certainly happened to me. Another thing that happened to me was the realisation of exactly who was important in my life, and who was there for me when the chips were down. If you are reading this, I am sure you will know which “camp” you are in, and to those of you who were there for me and still continue to be there for me, I cannot thank you enough and I am so very happy that we are friends and that you are in my life.
Support came to me after losing Frankie from people who I have never met in real life, and it was this lesson that really hit home because it was these people who were a HUGE comfort to me when others who I knew well would cross the street when they saw me to avoid me after Frankie was born sleeping, when they didn’t before. I know and realise that their issues would be to do with things like them not knowing what to say to me about the loss of Frankie, or how to react around me. But their reactions still hurt none the less.
The support I had on Facebook was immense. There was Devan in Malaysia who I met while playing a Formula 1 Fantasy Picks game way back in 2003. We used to chat on MSN Messenger (remember that folks) and hooked up on Facebook in 2007/2008 where we have been in touch ever since. There were loads of people who I met through the Cleft Lip And Palate Association Facebook group, and some of them even sent me sympathy cards when Frankie died. There was Sandra* in Canada, whose son has chromosome 15 duplication syndrome just like Frankie. There was Lindsay Condefer in Philadelphia USA, Lentil’s Mummy, who last Christmas sent me a beautiful card with a wooden token inside it with Lentil’s paw print on from when he was a puppy to bring me “love and luck”. These are just a few examples, and I talk to many others on Facebook who I know well but haven’t had the privilege of meeting in real life.
Since losing Frankie I do not suffer fools gladly. Things I would have tolerated from people before then I just don’t tolerate now. Losing him has put so much into perspective for me, taught me what is important in life, taught me who my REAL friends are, and brought me closer to some people who were only ever distant acquaintances before who I am now very proud to call my friends.
But recently I have heard things about how some of my friends have been treated by others that to me is appalling and I really do despair sometimes at what we have become as a society. Firstly there is this blog entry from one of my friends who lives round the corner from me, who started a new job last January and who has already left it due to the appalling actions of the Sales Manager there. Then there is another friend who I met for the first time at the Coffee Morning we held on what would have been Frankie’s first birthday last year, who was put down by someone she knows well recently which has really knocked her confidence.
When did this change occur? When did it become “okay” to ride rough shot over other people and their feelings? What gives other people the right to put others down and knock their confidence? This kind of behaviour makes me really mad sometimes but I know this much, I will never, ever be like that. I am always mindful of other people’s thoughts, feelings and I am considerate to the last. I will always be kind and help others who need help. That is the way I have been brought up, and I will never change where that is concerned.
Why can’t people just be nice, supportive, tolerant and non-judgmental? I’m not a religious person but I do think there is some truth to the tale of Jesus and the adulterous woman where he tells the crowd who are about to throw stones at her, “Let he who is free from sin cast the first stone”, and not one of them throws a single stone at her.
Then there is Romans 2:1: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
It might be from the bible but the world would be a MUCH better place if this actually happened, and it is very sad that it does not anymore. People generally seem to want to put others down when they do well, and jealousy is a horrible, horrible thing. I think bullying at work is one of the worst things though, and I feel so mad that my friend round the corner from me had to put up with that. I was angry as hell for her when I read her blog, but also proud that she stood up to this bully and walked away with her head held high. Sadly these kind of people will always be in the world, and I’m just very sorry that she has had to put up with one such horrible person. I can only think that the person who bullied her must have felt very, very threatened, and hopefully one day he will get his comeuppance. I am a big believer in karma.
As she said in a Facebook post in reply to something I posted, thankfully, some of us were raised properly to be better, kinder, compassionate and nicer people, always putting other people’s feelings first and helping them out whenever needed, and I agree 110% with her. It does however shock me when someone does something kind to me, or is kind to me, because I’ve had so much experience of people who are the total opposite. My friend round the corner told me that her husband held the door open for a young lady at Tesco Petrol Station recently, and she cut him a filthy look! Why, just why?
People I trusted implicitly took ideas I had when they were helping me with them and ran off with them, citing them as their own. Fine, if that what makes them happy, they are the ones who have to sleep at night with their own consciences of what they have done. I guarantee that when the chips are down their precious groups and “committees” will be nowhere in sight, and people who they thought would be there for them will also inexplicably vanish. What they also DON’T realise is that they have done me a MASSIVE favour, because right now I could be working myself to death every minute of every day for the benefit of others and missing out on something very important and very fundamental – living and enjoying my life!
Unlike them who are running themselves ragged to please other people, I am pleasing myself while still helping others when I can. I have a life with my husband, my family and my true friends, and despite losing Frankie I am keeping my promise to him and I am enjoying every second of my life. My husband and I go out together, we spend lots of time together and I still see my friends too. I appreciate every second I have with him, my family and my friends.
I would love to hear your experiences of this, please leave a comment on here or email me via firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime I’m going to be spending some time with my friend Sharon very shortly as she is coming round for coffee. After that I am going for a walk into town with my husband by the river, taking in the sunshine, the fresh air and enjoying being with him.
That, to me, is living.