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‘How can I help?’

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Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 2:11 pm

I recently suffered a devastating loss. And while this isn't the forum to go into details about my personal issues, I feel it's absolutely the forum to discuss the basic goodness of people.

I've learned in the last few weeks that when good people say or write the words "Please let me know if I can do anything," that they mean it.

I know this because I'm not shy in taking people up on this offer. I learned years ago after another difficult time that people who care about you don't make that offer lightly. They actually want to help.

And it's not always just the really close friends in your life ... it might be someone you haven't talked to for a while, or even seen in years. And that's okay, because sometimes the really close ones need a break from your drama and have to regroup before they come back for more. And they will be back. You can count on it.

I've learned to just go with it. I've learned to let people take care of me if I'm not sure what to do for myself. It feels good to let somebody else make a decision for you - even it it's what you're going to eat for dinner. Sometimes even the smallest decisions are literally impossible to make after a life-altering event and if somebody else knows what you need, you'd best listen.

If your best friend offers to stay at your house for a few days - let her. You need it. She needs it. She doesn't care if you haven't slept and don't even know how to form words. You don't need words. Not always.

If a dear friend doesn't listen when you say "No, you don't need to come over," and comes over anyway - let her. Let her take over your kitchen and cook up a pot of soup. And when she tells you to take a shower, just do it because you probably need it.

When your big brother wants to come over and hug you really hard, let that happen. And if he makes enchiladas for you using homemade tortillas - keep the leftovers. It's the polite thing to do.

If an old friend emails and says "Call any time, 24/7" - that's because he cares and he'll listen to whatever drivel you come up with. So, do it. Call that old friend. But if it's after midnight and you've already taken an Ambien, don't be surprised if you don't remember the conversation very well. That's okay also because he won't hold that against you. He's a friend who loves you and he understands.

When your car breaks down in the middle of all this chaos, remember the card you got from a friend you haven't seen in awhile that said "Let me know if you need anything?" Yep. Call her. Get a ride to your car and take the time afterward to get out of the house and have a glass of wine and some fried food and talk about whatever you feel like because she's your friend and she's been there too.

True friends don't care if your house is messy or you don't have on makeup when they stop by to run an errand for you. They don't care what your kitchen looks like when they come over to cook for you. They just want to know where the pots and pans and spices are - and the wine opener.

I'm not sure what I've done in my life to deserve these good friends and family. I'm not going to question the universe about that one. But I'm glad they're around. And while I navigate a future that looks much different to me than it did a short month ago - I know eventually I'll be fine ...

With a little help from my friends.

(Sorry Beatles.)