Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You, too? I thought that no one but myself. . .” – C.S. Lewis – Four Loves
Much to my surprise, we connected over Star Wars and Snoopy. It all started innocent enough, she noticed my Snoopy bag while taking me back to the exam room. I’d come to my neurologist’s appointment reluctantly and a little grumpy. This was a follow-up appointment and nothing had really changed. I’d been to a doctor every day but one this week. My summer break is running out and one more doctor visit is not how I wanted to spend my day. And now, the last thing I wanted to do was make conversation with the woman weighing me and taking my blood pressure (two numbers that have a way of depressing me).
I love my Snoopy bag Tony gave me for Christmas. Tony asked for gift suggestions a month or so before Christmas. I found a couple of things on Amazon that I liked, he takes hints well. I traded up with this husband! I’m always happy to brag on him and gush over the handbag I adore. And seriously, who doesn’t love Snoopy. My own collection began with a large Snoopy plush decked out in a blue track suit, very 1978. He is still in my attic, someday, my grandkids will play with him. I also went out of my way on a band trip in high school to purchase a Snoopy dressed like Boy George while on a layover in the San Francisco airport (also now in my attic, I think he’ll scare my grandkids). I’ve long said that if I was to get a tattoo it would be a dancing Snoopy. How can you stay grumpy when you see Snoopy dancing with his nose up in the air!
Our exam room conversation quickly turned to other things we collect. She collects Star Wars items especially those related to Harrison Ford. Of course, I have loved Han Solo for much of my life, as well. I dreamed of being Princess Leia and hearing his words of endearment, “I know.” I cried when he was put into carbonite and rejoiced when he thawed out. My new friend excitedly shared with me about her interactive Chewbacca and her Han in carbonite refrigerator.
Our conversation continued, the words coming faster and faster as we talked about our joy in sharing Star Wars with our children. Our time was limited, she was working after all, and the doctor was trying to keep a schedule. She talked about a trip to Hollywood Studios and pictures taken with Chewbacca and Darth Vader. I shared my crowning moment as a parent when I made Halloween costumes of Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi for my daughter and son. When she left the room, it felt like there was so much more to share.
My mood was lighter and my outlook brighter after those short 10 minutes. Our conversation stirred up good memories of fond family activities. It felt good to talk with someone who shared a similar experience. She “got me,” or at least a small part of me.
Since my MS diagnosis, I’ve felt isolated at times, both from my physical limitations and from my self-imposed “no one understands me” feelings. For many with chronic illnesses isolation is a challenge. Every illness is different, every person experiences their illness differently. Often it’s hard to find a way to connect with our friends and family. These feelings isolation lead to loneliness which can rob us of hope. Yet, when we find a point of connection with another, as C.S. Lewis describes, when we can say, “What! You, too?” Our shared experience binds us together and in that magical moment of connection, we find hope.
Will anyone ever completely understand us and our experience? Probably not, but we can look for points of connection with others. Even the smallest intersections of experience, like my encounter at the doctor’s office can lift our spirits. Magical moments where we no longer feel alone but can say, “What! You, too? I thought no one but myself” felt that way!