Remember in school where a teacher might encourage students to ask a question, saying that if you have a question, that chances are that others do too. I've found that to be usually true.
I'm writing in response from my last blog post, someone wrote me "Instead of others giving their "sympathies" what would recommend be done?" Honestly, it's a great question.
My life long friend Russel was the first friend I knew that was diagnosed with cancer and I'm sure I did nothing significant for him in word or deed. Looking back I'm embarrassed how lame of a friend I was. I have no idea if he needed any more support than he had. My guess is that I gave him some trite comment with no follow up.
Five years later when I was diagnosed I called Russ and he was very helpful only in the way someone who has "been there and done that" could be, as I could vent to someone who knew. His wife Jenn, also a friend, emailed Faith and I her experience, Jenn was expecting at the time of Russ' diagnosis and treatment. Her words were personal and touching. In fact Jenn's email was in part what motivated me to blog my experience.
Years have passed since we were inseparable friends; we live in different cities - we have different lives. Yet when in town, Russ and Jenn made the effort to see how old Rube was doing and dropped off some books for Myrtle. Whether they like it or not, I'm their friend for life.
Other examples of others giving their "sympathies" have been relatives from out of province made the effort to visit us. They watched Myrtle when I had doctor appointments to attend to. Some relatives and friends realized with Faith on maternity leave and me unable to work they sent some money over to help (and help it did).
An auntie and a sister-in-law each made me a quilt. Every and I mean EVERY day when I see the quilts I am reminded that I'm loved and someone thought enough of my little family to beautify our home with a gift of love and service.
Other family members and some friends are making an effort to visit again this month for a very special day our family is having. Some flying/driving from Alberta, Utah and Oregon. Perhaps without the cancer they might have still came. I would imagine that now more of an effort is being made, because that's what family who are friends and friends who are family do when one of their own could use some moral support.
It's not that I think people should do anything for me. In fact I was baffled and humbled anyone did anything at all, even felt undeserving. Soon I realized that people showed they cared because that's who they are, not who I am.
Another example is in an email I received from someone who I was great friends with for 20 years, but hadn't heard from in awhile.
Yes, that was the complete email. I replied of course and gave a link to my blog, only to never hear from him again. Well, not until we bumped into each other six months later. He asked how I was and other curious questions that were only being asked because I was in front of his face. Nothing I said I hadn't already blogged about. Nothing says I could care less about someone's literal life than getting the juicy details only because you happened to bump into them.
Other "friends" who live around the corner have driven past our home twice a day for 7+ months and not even once popped over to say hello or offered any help. Even when I was unable to walk or dress myself and Myrtle too was still crawling.
Every week Faith would say "I saw 'so and so' and they said they're going to come and visit." Never happened.
So to my friend who cared enough to email, there's absolutely nothing wrong with "others giving their sympathies". My suggestion is that if one says they're going to pray, well pray for them and later let the person know "Hey, I'm still praying for you."
If someone in society could use some relief, well one can never fail by being charitable. Perhaps instead of people saying "If you need anything let me know", saving them their dignity one could offer to help.
"Hey Faith, I know Ruban's not walking and either is Myrtle. I live just a few minutes away, I'm going to come by for 20 minutes to vacuum and dust. And I am NOT taking no for answer."
Or saying "Glad to see you out, you're looking healthy" is infinitely better than "Oh, you're out? How's your health? How bad is it? Does treatment hurt? Sorry I haven't called or anything, I find this type of thing hard. My friends dad died of cancer, so I know how tough it can be." Yes, those are real quotes.
Something done, anything done is better than NOTHING.
Truly I have no grudges, I'm not a victim in the slightest. The above only sounds as harsh as one thinks it is.
My theory is that God did not run out of real estate and had to put us 7 billion all on the same planet, rather I suspect He wants us to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, Sometimes it's prayer, sometimes it's an email or a phone call - just being friendlier.
By the way, I'm sure I'll be eating my words in no time.