Ok…we’re coming down the homestretch of Celiac Awareness Month.
So we’ve covered celiac disease from a child’s perspective. And we’ve covered it from a spouse’s perspective.
Well, let me introduce you to David Z, a very good friend of mine. We had him and his wife over for drinks a few nights ago, and he said it would be interesting to view celiac disease from a friend’s perspective.
I thought it was brilliant and he had the below post in my inbox by 6 the next morning. And I swear to you, I did not pay him for his services. :)
How To Survive Being a Friend of a Celiac Sufferer
The above title of this blog post is not accurate. I know, strange way to open a blog entry, but it’s true. Allow to me explain.
Being a friend of Gluten Dude I remember quite distinctly the first time we engaged socially after he was diagnosed. Dude had let us know that he would like us to come over for drinks and snacks and after a few he regaled us with his journey through celiac. I was both mesmerized and a bit sad. My friend of all these years was afflicted with this insidious disease that could attack at any moment, brought on by a mere crumb or fallen morsel.
As he educated us, my mind interpreted his restrictions as a confinement of the pleasures of life and I left that night being both bonded with my friend but simultaneously pitying him.
As good friends, we wanted to reciprocate the invite so we invited Dude and Mrs. Dude over to our house for drinks and snacks. My wife took great pains to try to purchase foods that were marked gluten free and laid out a spread.
Unfortunately more than 70% of the food we put out was too questionable for Gluten Dude to partake in so all night he ate carrots and rice crackers, which to me tasted like packing peanuts. More pity for my friend, and a feeling of hopelessness that we would never be able to break Dude from the confines of his “house imprisonment” and his world of gluten free that he had created under his own roof.
But over the next few months, and the more we ‘hung’ with Gluten Dude, something interesting happened.
We consciously or subconsciously, not sure which, stopped trying so hard. We stopped trying to OVER-research foods and restaurants that would be appropriate for Dude. We stopped agonizing over which house we would be going over to or how Dude might feel if all he had to eat was carrots.
But most of all, I stopped thinking of Dude as my friend with Celiac and instead went back to thinking of him as my friend…someone that makes our lives better for knowing.
I also realized that although Celiac is an important cause for him, it didn’t define who the Dude was. HE defined himself.
With that relaxed state of mind we invited The Dudes over for our annual Halloween Party. Quite casually we set up a Gluten free station with the foods we knew the Dude could enjoy.
In doing so we created an environment where Dude could sit back and enjoy the party and put Celiac worries on hold for a night. It was special for us. Special because our good friend could be our good friend, and not the man I originally pitied.
As I write this I fondly think back to just last night where we partook of Friday night drinks and snacks at the Dude’s house. It was the usual fair of crazy drinks and snacks, generously passed out by G. Dude.
But they have long ago ceased to be Gluten Free snacks and have just become snacks…just as my good friend ceased to be a Celiac sufferer and has just become my friend.
Being a friend of a someone with celiac is not about surviving the friendship, it is about thriving and celebrating who the person is and the value they create in your life.