I have a friend at church who is fighting breast cancer. She is a young mom, making a serious situation that much more serious and emotional. She has just had her final infusion of chemo, with some form of surgery and radiation up next.
She has had an on line blog about her fight through a site called Caring Bridge. I have read her posts and commented,as our paths don't cross that much in real life. (I go to church in a city rather distant from my home and she also lives in a different city from our church.) So if she wasn't in church, I was not likely to see her.
She has been often in my thoughts, and I have struggled with what to right in the comments area of her blog. What to say when I do see her. I am a "fixer" by nature. I always have been. If there is a problem, I'll map out a solution or a work around, something that makes things better.
Except that of course, I can't with this. And it has left me feeling awkward and useless. At which point I get furious with myself because clearly this situation should not be about Lee. Come on! My friend has cancer. This is about her. Really, it is, and I truly get that. But I felt like I wasn't being a good enough friend. That the occasional cards, the hugs at church and the blog comments were not enough. There should be something more I could do.
Till I read her most recent post. And she thanked us all, for being with her, for being present and a "witness" as she put it to this journey. I have been thinking of her words ever since. I will have to work at reframing my concept of "helping." Clearly you don't always need to bring the perfect gift basket, or find the perfect card, or know the perfect thing to do. You just need to be there. It was enough. I was enough, as were her other friends.
I need to really take this lesson to heart because my sense is that it translates to many aspects of my life. It is good to fix. It is good to plan. It is also good to be present and do neither of those things. I hope I can remember that.