I mentioned last week that my mother’s best friend who I have known for 20 years died on January 28th. If that was not difficult enough, my father’s best friend, who has been a substitute father for me and a substitute grandfather for my children, died suddenly of a heart attack this week. I know that I am “of that age” where these things are more frequent than we care to mention, but it still dealt a harsh blow. Needless to say, I showed up at my Superbowl party with my eyes red and needing a complete makeup do-over.
I spoke with my mom this week, and she was hesitant to call the family, lest she disturb them during this difficult week. I felt differently, even though it may have been wrong. “Just call them!” I practically shouted over the phone. “They won’t answer if they don’t want to talk!” My only thought was – Just Do Something.
When someone close to us dies or is very ill or is going through something really difficult like a divorce, a seriously ill child or something that we just can’t get our heads around, sometimes it is just easier to say “I’ll call later” or “I’ll pray for them right now until I hear from them.” Having gone through two life-threatening surgeries myself, I would encourage you to swallow whatever is keeping you from action, and Just Do Something.
So what meant the world to me when I couldn’t take care of myself or my family? I found blondies on my back stoop. Tulips in a grocery store container were delivered to me when I was sleeping. Meals were organized like a military operation and brought in with no requirement of a thank you note. Thank you notes were made for me so that I didn’t have to go buy them. I could go on and on about the mercies that were shown to me and to my family. People didn’t say to me, “Let me know what I can do to help” – which I am VERY guilty of myself. They said, “I am picking up your children and taking them to the park today so you can sleep. And I’m feeding them before I drop them back to you.”
One very memorable act of mercy was from one of my best friends. She was not a real fan of hearing some of the specifics of my surgery and the aftermath, but she showed up in a way I will never forget. My aunt was coming to care for my family and me after my second brain surgery. She was going to stay in a bedroom suite in our basement which was pretty exposed to our neighbors and sunlight in general. I wanted my aunt to have privacy but had no time to sort out curtains or window coverings before I left for my surgery. My friend came in while I was away for surgery, had the windows measured, then selected and installed the blinds. It was like the window fairy had visited my house and waved her magic wand. It was an amazing gesture, and perfectly suited to her and to her gifts, and I was more grateful than I could have ever imagined or communicated to her.
So when you think you have nothing to offer – you DO. When you think you have nothing to say – just be there to listen and hold their hand. When you think you might be “bugging them,” just drop something off to let them know you are thinking of them. Be Christ for someone. Be a light for someone. Let your light shine in your own, unique way. You have something to give that no one else can give.
As we begin the season of Lent, we are called to fast, pray and give. So give, and give abundantly – of your time, your treasure and the gift that is uniquely you. The you that God created and created perfectly.
I was listening to the Fish today because I was afraid that if I listened to one more minute of talk radio that my head might explode. I heard a great quote:
Do as much good as you can
For as many people as you can
As often as you can.
God bless you and your family as you undertake your Lenten journey over these next 40 days.