Several years ago a friend of mine went though a very low valley in her life. It was one of those scenarios that even though you see coming you're never really prepared for the depth of it. And as the descent was about to pick up pace rapidly, we were preparing to head out of town. Later she commented on the people who weren't there for her when she needed it most. And in many ways, she was right. Physically, I wasn't there. I met with a mutual friend before I left and gave money to ensure that some needs they would have during that time would be met. But I sent e-mails, I made a special trip to the store for a card, meaning instead of going to bed at 1am before having to start getting up at 4am, I went to bed at 2am. With every prayer and most of my thoughts throughout that weekend her name was uttered up in supplication. And yet, my journey to check on my parents continued, because those planned times are rare and very important to me. But in hindsight, most of those things my friend never, ever saw. And I'm still okay with that. If I had to do it all over again, I don't think anything would change.
I was reminded of those days recently. Two friends have gone through similar circumstances, and they're baffled by the absence of friends. There are people who are fickle, who disappear during the hard times, who don't desire to see someone hurting or without their mind or in pain. There are also people who simply do not know what to say and have been verbally assaulted in past situations for saying "the wrong thing". But I've learned that sometimes people are simply on a different path than the one you are traveling. The mountaintop experience you've shared with friends can sometimes lead you downward to different valleys. And while they're not physically there to walk through your valley does not mean you are forgotten...they're simply facing a very different valley than yours. It may not be as steep, it may not be as treacherous, but it is still a valley just the same.
And hopefully, when you both come out on top, even if you're not back on top of the same mountain, which usually you aren't, you can wave at each other across from the tops and rejoice that the other has made it. Sometimes the biggest support we receive comes from people who are not physically beside us.