I have a privileged position on the periphery. I cherish this position. It is one of honour as you get to witness the goings on of others, yet you do not have to go be involved.
You just get to watch. And pray.
Currently, I sit here on the sidelines, holding a friend and her family close. My friend is a person I have never met in the flesh. We met through our online university course. A singularly remarkable woman and writer, I have been following her journey for the last eighteen months. A woman of breathtaking grace, she lives a life of hope and joy under what some would say are difficult circumstances. Her sunny presence gets her and her family through some of the harshest of obstacles. It's a pleasure to watch as her attitude sees her grateful for a well-loved life.
We are of different beliefs and faiths. That doesn't matter. She's a wonderful person. That is all that counts to me in a friend. I hope she doesn't mind me calling her a friend. I find her inspirational.
Last week, things took a dramatic turn. Her daughter, already living with a litany of medical issues, was rushed to hospital. The child went from being fine to being rushed to a paediatric intensive care unit which is where she remains.
And I am taken back to this time last year, when my nearly sixteen-year-old niece was in the same situation.
All you can do is watch, and wait, and send love.
My friend is articulate in telling of her thoughts and feelings. This is another privilege to hear, and to bear witness. I watched as my my sister was in the same position this time last year. There is nothing you can do. I used to send her dog and cat videos over Facebook. If I could give her a ten second smile a day, then I had done my best to bring a little relief to what must be the most awful of situations. Like my sister, my friend is a long distance from her home. This must be alienating as well, but like my sister, my friend is a very strong woman. She finds peace where she can.
So we watch, and wait, and pray.
It is not my business to know of prognoses or the like in this situation. When my niece was in this position, I was getting daily family updates - away from my sister's public updates where she tried to keep a sunny view on things, after a number of catastrophic medical events, it was evident that my niece was dying and that there would be a time when the machines would be turned off and she would not be there.
We're dealing with that at the moment - that she's not here. The anniversary of her death comes next week. She would have been seventeen in a fortnight, She would have been starting Year 12 in January. Getting her driver's license. Seeing boys... all these things she never did.
But you don't think about that stuff. Well, you try not to.
What you're left with is the memories. An aura of the person who permeates every pore of you that never leaves, even though the physical presence is not there. I see butterflies, and smile. I hear Korean pop music and grimace. I see giggling teenage girls on the tram and feel sad. She's not here any more. The hole is immense. It can't be filled.
I don't know what will happen with my friend's daughter. Part of me is reading between the lines the facebook posts that are provided daily. Where there is life, there is hope. But when there is life, there are other, greater mysteries as well. There are no certain outcomes.
All I hope is that my friend, like my sister, can feel the fortress of love that surrounds her and her family through this time.
I also hope that I don't have to watch a friend have a terribly sick child in intensive care again. It brings its own special kind of agony that words can barely describe.
I can only sit on the periphery and quietly send love.