Monday, 27 June 2011

Taking care of a Peony at a time

A friend called me on Thursday night to share some really sad news. I don’t want to post it here because it feels like I could be betraying her trust and I know that once it’s out there in blog world it’s out there. She sobbed down the phone and I listened. I didn’t know how to respond. In this instance I couldn't relate to her experience. There were so many questions I wanted to ask her but I decided not to, I just let her talk and cry and then change the subject when she wanted to.

The next morning I mulled it over. I was working from home and kept thinking about how I could help. I can’t take her grief away, she has to heal and it will take time. I suddenly felt that the only thing I could do was show up. So I walked to the flower shop near my house and they made me a beautiful bouquet with scented stock and peonies. I wanted the flowers to say the stuff that I couldn’t, to say I loved her and wanted her to know that she mattered to me and that my heart grieved for her loss as well. And I showed up. I drove to where she worked, hugged her, handed over the flowers and took her for coffee and we talked.

Then something happened.

Once again I wanted to ask her questions, I wanted to know what her plan was now, what she would do next. How was her husband doing? I could feel the questions coming up inside me and then I stopped, I didn’t ask her anything. In a brief moment before my questions got asked I realised that I was asking them for my benefit, because I wanted to know the answers, in that moment I learnt something really important. When a friend is in trouble and hurting, all you really have to do is show up, listen and leave your stuff at the door. The questions I wanted to ask would not have supported her or comforted her or made her feel less pain or sorrow. I almost missed that lesson. It’s only something small but it’s changed me already. The voice that came up inside me and asked, ‘who am I asking this question for?’ is the same voice that I need to pay more attention to because it’s making me a better person, a better friend.

1 comment:

Claudine said...

That is beautiful Anita - I've just learned something about my MO; I ask questions all the time thinking I'm helping when most of the time its curiosity. You are a good friend my dear. I'm glad you are mine.