I wrote this as I sat at Union Pines Surgery Center waiting for Mr. Fix It to get his knee worked on a few weeks ago (torn cartilage, no big deal). I didn’t post it then because I just wasn’t sure that I should. I’m not sure that I should now. I’m praying that nobody will take this personally because that is not how it’s intended.
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I’ve been struggling all morning with this post.
1. It’s dark. I prefer to write on more “feel good” topics.
2. I’m very afraid that someone reading will take this as an accusation or condemnation. That is not at all my intent. I am writing this as much to myself as to anyone.
3. It’s emotional and I’d really rather just avoid thinking about it.
But despite those things, I’m writing it.
Last night I was overwhelmed by all the people at my wonderful church who offered me help because of this little surgery. One lady offered a meal. One sweet gentleman asked if there were any outdoor chores he could help with. Several offered to come sit with us during the surgery. And everyone offered a hug and a kind word and promises to pray.
I couldn’t help but think how this was exactly what I needed last year.
Last year I was struggling. Nanny had been sick and bouncing between nursing home and hospital since November. From late November to mid-February, I practically abandoned Mr Fix It and J-Bear, who were living in a filthy house and eating take-out while Josie and I were in Sapulpa or Tulsa for a minimum of 12 hours a day. I wasn’t able to attend church often, but I needed the fellowship of my church family more than I ever had before (a different church than I attend now). Often Mr. Fix It would pick Josie up from me in the evening so that I could spend the night with Nanny. It was this week last year when we finally realized that Nanny was only getting weaker and we decided that we needed to stop dialysis and call hospice. Writing that here in black and white it looks so simple. In reality it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Gut – wrenching, ugly horrible, hard.
The doctors assured us that the process would be quick and painless for Nanny. They expected her to live a few days, a week at the most, getting weaker and sleeping more, until she would finally just slip away. That isn’t what happened. It was almost a month. It wasn’t painless, it was agonizing.
During that time my family came together in an amazing way. Mom and I were always with Nanny, and Dad, Mr Fix It, the kids, my brother, and Grandma came as they were able to spell us and hug us and hold us up.
But outside of my family I felt very alone. I needed someone to come hold my hand and pray with me. I needed someone to offer a meal to my boys. I needed someone to say “what can I do for you?” I got many messages on Facebook saying “we’re praying for you”. But I needed a more tangible form of support. I needed a hug and a hand to hold. I didn’t ask anyone specifically to help me, and I know there are people who would have if I had asked. I just wanted them to know. I knew that they were aware of my situation. But rather than post on Facebook that I needed someone to sit at the hospital with me, I’d just post again what a hard day it had been and hope that someone would connect the dots.
Nanny passed and I got angry. I sent ugly emails to people I felt should have been there for me. If you got one of those emails, I am so sorry. I was hurting so badly and I needed someone to blame. I realized too late that I’d been wrong to be angry. Nobody had done anything different than I had done myself when others were hurting.
We are wrapped up in our own lives and our own dramas and our own busyness. We sort of hear on the periphery of our awareness that our friend is hurting and we shoot a text or Facebook comment “praying”. I do it too. And I’m here to say it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough when I do it either.
I’m not saying prayer is unimportant. It is SO important. But so is a hug. So is a meal. So is a hand to hold. In our lives we have replaced human interaction with online interaction. We are running in a dozen directions and rarely seeing the people we are interacting with. And offering real tangible help requires that we take a step away from our schedules and our routines, go out of our way and do something that may be hard.
Today I am committing to change. Today I will take a long hard look at my prayer list and see who I can help with something more tangible than a prayer. If you are my friend and you need me, I hope you say so. I hope I don’t miss it. I hope I connect the dots. And I hope you connect the dots for those you care about as well.