Being There for Others, Like Friends Who Were There for Us

This past week, a friend of mine shared a Facebook memory picture of her son. He passed two years ago due to complications of muscular dystrophy. He was in his early 30s but was thirteen years old the last time I saw him and my friend.

We were living in Missouri at that time, and although we attended the same church, we were involved in different activities, so we didn’t see each other often. Never the less, I clearly remember seeing her son struggling to walk. I remember seeing his dad piggyback him up the steps because he could no longer go up them on his own. I also remember his mom often asking for prayer for a miracle cure to be found for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. At that time, I did not know what muscular dystrophy was. I am embarrassed today to say, I did not ask.

Later we moved to Alaska. Three years later my world would collide with the Duchenne world when my five-year-old son was also diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. It was early one morning when I received the phone call from the doctor. She said his blood tests all point to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I was told to follow-up with a neurologist, but there was no treatment or cure so no hurry to be seen by the specialist. She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t know much about it, but we could google it if we wanted. I hung up the phone and sat in silence trying to process what I was just told. I was just told life changing information over the phone, now I am supposed to just go about my day as if nothing happened?


A few hours later memories of my friend came to mind. I remembered all the heartfelt prayer requests she made of behalf of her son. From what I could remember of her situation, my son was just diagnosed with the same thing. I needed to talk with someone who might understand, so I picked up the phone to call her. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if she would even want to talk to me. There had been no contact with her since we had moved three years earlier. In desperation I dialed the phone

When she answered the phone, I managed to hold it together long enough to tell her why I was calling then broke down in tears. She was silent for a while, allowing my tears to flow. Then she said, “I am so sorry.” As I shared what I was just told by the doctor, we determined our sons both had the same diagnosis. She was gracious in allowing me to ask some hard questions, answering them without hesitation. She listened to my cries, my questions, and my fears. She gave me the time I needed to be able to process all this and allowed me to be free in sharing my heart and my sorrows. As we were saying our goodbyes she said, “It may not seem like it now, but you can do this.” I desperately needed to hear that.

Looking back fifteen years later, I'm so thankful God brought her to my mind that day. I am also reminded of how much we all need each other to be willing to share our struggles so that others will know they are not alone, to be willing to listen and offer those same words, “You can do this!”

Donna McKenzie,