we had friends over for dinner a few weeks ago. it was a sunday which you know we do not entertain as great days to have people over, but we longed to be with these friends, not only because we love them and miss them, but also because we knew they were in a bit of pain as they suffered through some bad health news for their family.
i had the crock pot yumminess brewed. i had the tastiest bread trader joes had to offer and some homemade apple pie to sugar their worries away. as we sat at the table to talk and catch up, to care for one another and to rejoice in this friendship that we had come upon so coincidentally, but that had been food for my soul for so long, we wondered where to begin…
“excuse me, sometimes when i go potty it hurts right here in my bum.” hazel has decided that it is best for her to start us off as she had something pressing she wanted to share with these our deep friends. we all started cracking up and the dad of the family we had invited into our home for comfort says, “yeah that happens to me sometimes too:)” pleased that our longtime friend occasionally felt the burden of constipation, she moved on.
there are times when i think that i know exactly how to care for a friend in need and there are others when i have no idea, but the important thing is to try. i remember when i was bedridden for the first 17 weeks of my first pregnancy one of my friends brought her baby over and lifted it up and said, “THIS. This is worth it in the end.” she didn’t tell me to “let go and let God” (she may have seen the tombstone to the last friend to offer such helpful advice). instead she reminded me that it was for a purpose. she did not tell me to try ginger, accupressure, acupuncture, massage or prayer. she saw me in my bed in clothes i had been wearing for who knows how long. she saw me unable to move to greet her, and so she reminded me that it was not all for nothing. she saw me.
it amazes me in this fast paced multitasking world how many people want to check off caring for someone they know is hurting without actually approaching the wounded. to the best of your ability i dare you to see the people who need you, and to take it in. to really see them. sit with them and ask them the question that may take awhile to answer. let them cry without talking about it. sit with them and be willing to enter that which is not your favorite simply because they are one of your favorites. don’t fix it, don’t minimize it and don’t relate it to a time when you were in similar pain. let it be uniquely theirs and let it be. sit with them in it so they know they are not alone and that this is not the end of the story. and if the silence gets to be overwhelming, invite hazel over for some deep thoughts.