I am anxious. I don’t know why but I am anxious about seeing my friends. Somehow I fear that when they see me, they will feel sorry for me. I detest that feeling of course, as far as I know nobody in her right mind enjoys being pitied. But at this point I must talk about my personality, why this feeling is especially hard on me: “All my life, I thought of myself as a strong, confident, self assured, assertive person, who doesn’t give up, who even performs better under pressure, freely distributes advice… “ Now I feel like a vulnerable, wounded animal that has to show her soft underbelly. The personality transformation I have experienced since my stroke has been very powerful. The stroke has been a great lesson in teaching me humility. Since then 15 months have passed. You would think that if I have learned my lesson, if I take everything easy, then why the anxiety? My mind tells me that my true friends will be so concerned about my health that they will be just relieved to see me well and alive. Yet the mind doesn’t always work tandem with the feelings, does it? I call one of my closest friends up and tell her I have come. As soon as I hang up she leaves work, jumps onto one of the vaporettos that connects the European side of Istanbul with the Asian side and is at my mom’s apartment within hours. Then two days later four of my friends come. I have shared with them that I am not ready for a larger gathering, I tire easily and when there is more than one conversation going on my speech suffers. So we meet one by one with a great many of my closest friends. Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we go to them. What a delight! Of course all my anxiety is rootless. We never miss a beat in terms of connecting right where we left. We can even laugh about my speech deficiency as if it is a science experiment. The best part is: They know it is the old me, who loves them and cherishes them It so happens that I have a new feature, like a broken arm. Yes it is a handicap, but hey, who hasn’t got them? Two of my friends have lost their dad’s to leukemia the past year. After having experienced all the pain associated with having a loved one suffer and eventually die, they too have grown a lot, emotionally. The more you live through, the more things you are a veteran of the more you grow. Growth must have a component of age, because things happen to your own body, that you never have guessed before, but also, growth must have another component outside of your physical age. Now that we are middle aged, in our fourties, everything is much richer in scope. There are feelings I would read about in books in my twenties and think that I understood them, or feelings that were so foreign to me that I couldn’t fathom understanding them. Now I know that nothing is too far away, everything can happen to anybody anytime. Unless you are in their shoes, you cannot ever know how they feel or think. We should accept everybody as they are, nothing more nothing less. Who are we to criticize one another? And I know also another fact. I know that with time, this belief can also change. Just as my beliefs and knowledge have changed from my teens to twenties to my fourties then they can also change towards my fifties, sixties… With one’s individual and collective experiences it is bound to change, isn’t it?