“The blessing is that we had our dads, as ornery as they could be, and we were still their little girls.” This was part of a Thanksgiving text from a precious friend who knew I was missing my dad at our table again this year. Her “dad story” and mine run parallel with so many similarities. Her journey as daughter-caregiver until her dad’s death was a few years ahead of mine. She had already navigated the heartaches and frustrations. Time after time she had reached back to steady me on my own journey.
In her own grieving, another caring soul had told her that the 1 1/2 year anniversary of a death can usher in another wave of grief. She knew I was at that marker of my dad’s death and once again reached out her hand to love and encourage me.
My sweet friend lived out the Scripture in 2 Corinthians 1:4 …
He comes along side us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.
The Message Bible
In November a friend and I traveled to a little town about an hour away. We shopped a Holiday Craft Show where there were a hundred vendors winding their way through the local high school. We wandered from table to table oohing and awing over their beautiful displays and wares. Nothing catches my eye like a unique piece of jewelry, so naturally I was drawn to a delightful display of necklaces handcrafted from antique silverware. Each piece was sweetly labeled…”Love Henry”. Of course, I had to ask about Henry. A middle-aged woman, the business owner, responded that Henry was her husband, the original creator of the jewelry. Then she softly added that he had passed away and she was continuing on with their business. She saw the looks of compassion on my friend’s face and my own, and hastily, almost apologetically, told us that he had been gone for five years. I was so glad we asked about Henry so she had the opportunity to share a bit of her heart and grief with us.
Holidays can be stressful, even without the added weight of illness and death. So may I encourage all of us, in the true spirit of Christmas and giving, that we reach out to those around us who are grieving… suffering…sitting in hospital rooms with precious loved ones. In the hustle and bustle of this time of year they become the “forgotten ones”. It doesn’t take much time or money to let someone know you care about them. Somehow, someway, let them know they are not forgotten. If there has been a death, let them know their deceased loved one is not forgotten either. Some days I find I just need to talk about my dad. The gift of a listening ear from a friend or family member is indescribably healing.
The Scripture in Matthew 10:42 promises reward just for giving a cup of cold water. “Cups of cold water” are practical and extravagant all at once.
~My son and daughter-in-law took turns sitting with me, bringing me food and coffee. Normal conversation reminded me of my life as wife, mom, nana.
~My aunt paid for a meal at a restaurant close to the hospital that I had to pick up. (I’m convinced she arranged it that way to get me out into the fresh air and take a much-needed break.)
~One of my daughter’s best friends came with her two daughters, bringing flowers and a gift. They were like sunshine to my soul that day.
~Long time friends brought coffee and sat with me in the waiting room.
~My sweet sister-friend housed me, fed me, poured wine for me, listened to me late at night when I would return to her house for a few hours of sleep and a shower.
~My daughter would text and call, frustrated to be so far away.
~Friends and family sent messages, texts…they were my connection to the outside world.
~When my dad was transferred back to our home town on comfort care, one Superwoman nurse would message me at 6 a.m. to let me know how the night had gone. What peace of mind that brought…
~Friends came to see me in the long-term care facility where I sat with dad for hours at a time. One time he reached out his hands to my friend like he wanted to dance….she didn’t hesitate, she took his hands, hummed a little song and danced with him.
The friends and family who sat with me, the health care professionals who hugged me and cared for me alongside my dad, the texts, phone calls, emails, cards, Starbucks coffee and chocolate treats…every act of kindness was a lifeline to me and assured me I was not forgotten.
May you be a lifeline for someone this Christmas…