Why Bother To Be A Cheerleader?

Why Bother To Be A Cheerleader?

Although I was never a cheerleader in high school, I’ve grown into one as an adult. But I’m not a cheerleader that stands on the sidelines of athletic events jumping up and down and waving pom-poms. I do not yell through a bull-horn or do flips off anyone’s shoulders. I don’t wear a short skirt or school colored ribbons in my hair. But I am still a cheerleader because that is what my friend calls me and it is a role I take quite seriously. 

  You Are My Cheerleader

I believe everyone needs buoying up, someone who will rally for them, and spur them along. I know that for my friend, who is encumbered with depression, staying alive, thinking hopeful thoughts and concentrating on daily life is a huge chore for her. Though I don’t understand the nuances of anyone’s depression, I do know that it is real, and heavy and a burdensome load to carry. Encouragement can lightning that encumbrance.

I’ve witnessed the various treatments and medications she has tried, but nothing snaps her out of feeling sad, tearful, empty or hopeless. Her relationship with depression is older than our friendship of almost forty years. At times, it debilitates my educated, intelligent and artistic friend and it is not something that will probably ever go away. The best she can do is live as well as she knows how to in spite of it. 

A few years back, I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her.

“Yes,” she said, “just treat me like I’m normal.”

And so I have. We take walks along familiar wooded trails, and go kayaking. We get together for dinner, text or talk on a regular basis. She knows me almost as well as my husband and I trust her insights about my life. We share our victories and our defeats, as well as our hopes and fears for the future. 

Without a whole lot of physical endurance and limited concentration, some days for her are more limiting than others. Not too long ago when talking with her on the phone, I asked, “So what are you doing?” 

“I’m sitting on the front porch, sipping tea and watching someone else do the yardwork.”

“Good for you,” I exclaimed. “You are doing exactly what you should be doing.” 

“Thanks cheerleader.” 

I had to smile. She is the only one who calls me her cheerleader and I like that. 

Why bother to be a cheerleader? It is worth remembering that everyone needs buoying up, the downtrodden as well as those who cheer the downtrodden.