Monday, September 22, 2014

Circumstances That Bond

As I'm sure many of you saw, last week, FOX premiered a new show called Red Band Society. It's a show described by the network as, "provocative, unconventional and unique coming-of-age dramedy about a group of rule-bending friends and the adults who mentor them through the ups and downs of adolescence in Los Angeles' Ocean Park Hospital. Exploring everything from strong friendships and first loves, to humorous mishaps and heartbreaks, the series is a story of life, with an edgy comedic tone all its own." 

...And one of the characters has CF.

There has been mixed reviews about the show from people in the CF community (and I'm sure the other communities whose ailments are featured). I get the negative feedback. It's not totally realistic (come on, what TV shows are?!). 

Hospital rooms don't look like dorm rooms. That said, they could come close if you wanted them to. Ronnie has an entire snack table complete with a coffee maker and microwave; brings his own comforter, pillows and pillow cases, bath mat and towels; and usually brings a TV and game system. Patients maybe don't smoke pot in closets and have parties on the roof top. That said, Ronnie and I have date nights where we find hidden, secluded spots on the hospital grounds and have take out under the stars. We also "escape" and "sneak" over to the university campus to catch a glimpse at tailgaters, watch parts of football games, and eat lunch. And there may not be several inpatient friends to run wild with while in house (although in the old days they did), but the friendships depicted are based on something very real. It's a phenomenon that I think speaks to the beauty of mankind.

When you have something in common with someone, there's an immediate bond. I first noticed this when I lived in Asia as a tween. Surrounded by Asians, two caucasians always smile at each other. You know that that person is likely also an ex-pat; living abroad; in a foreign land. There's a familiarity, even though they could be nothing like you, and they are a total stranger. Fellow Christians, we do this all the time. As soon as we know someone else is a Christian, there's a common ground; an understanding. And when I started dating Ronnie and joined the CF community, I realized this is very much true in a "disease community"...especially in a rare disease community.

Fellow members of the CF community understand something about Ronnie and I that no one else can. You can watch a CF life from the outside, but you'll never grasp it like when you live it. Other friends or extended family can watch our life and know what it looks like. But they don't feel the same feelings. They've never had the same thoughts. They don't know the depths of our souls and the emotions that come with every day, and typical lifetime, decisions. That's the bond shown in the show. It's immediate. And very much real.

We have some dear friends, Mike and Sara...who we were blessed to spend yesterday with. Spending the day with them actually sparked this blog post. They are the type of friends we see a couple times a year, yet when we are together, we reveal parts of ourselves we don't share with others. We can sit down at a table and look up to realize it has been 6 hours. Mike and Sara understand parts of our life that other friends will never, ever grasp. Sara has CF. Sara and Ronnie understand each other in a way that I will never understand Ronnie. Mike and I understand each other in a way Ronnie will never understand me. We understand each other as a couple, and the dynamics that come along with being a CF couple, that will always make us "different" from other couples...yet eerily similar to each other. We are now all parents. We are raising children with CF parents. We understand decisions and possibilities in each others' lives that others don't even consider. Our kids, though they don't know it yet, will have a bond that will serve them well one day. They will understand each other in a way their peers will never get them. It's a powerful connection that we, as humans, desire, and need.

The show may not be accurate, but the principals it encourages me to embrace and remember, are awesome. First, to make the best of where we are in life. When Ronnie is inpatient, it is crucial to his survival (mentally) to make the best of it. And second, to cherish the bonds we have the opportunity to make as a result of illness. It really can be beautiful.

And just to end things on an adorable note: here are our two kiddos...they have no idea how dear their friendship will be to them in years to come!