One of the biggest and possibly most important things I am learning during my recovery period is to say yes when friends offer to help. I am often so stubbornly independent, refusing assistance no matter what we are going through, always having to be the strong one who can do it all, take care of everything by myself. While that can be a good quality, sometimes it can be exhausting.
When the site HysterSisters.com was suggested to me by friends who had gone through hysterectomies, I dug into my research with gusto; what questions to ask your doctor, what to bring to the hospital, what to expect…and also a recurring commandment: when your friends offer to help you, put your Superwoman cape away and say yes. I knew it would be hard when the time came, but I let the idea marinate over the weeks before my operation. I didn’t have only myself to think of- Dan would be the one left to do everything around the house and yard, the shopping, taking care of the animals, as well as looking after me. I needed to be open to help and open to kindness- the same things I would always want to offer my friends in their time of need.
The first things to arrive were a gorgeous painting of our sweet cat who recently passed away from an artist friend, and a surprise bag of relaxation items from my BFF. The painting came with a note, “I hope this will help you to heal.” It warms my heart each time I see it. My best friend knew how stressed I had been about the surgery, and sent a home spa kit for me to use while I recover at home. Cards and flowers began to arrive, friends made wonderful homemade meals for us, came to visit. While there were twinges of guilt that I wasn’t able to take care of things myself, those twinges dissolved into glowing gratitude. What a gift to be able to relinquish some of the burden of responsibility when I am feeling weak and physically unable to do some things for myself and my family.
Some of my friends sent wonderful homemade meals to help relieve the worry of cooking. Some sent cards and flowers or sent messages to brighten my day. Some offered to run errands, came to visit, covered things at the office, and some simply kept us in their thoughts and prayers- a wonderful gift in itself. It brings me to tears to think about how fortunate we are to have such an amazingly loving and supportive group of friends in our lives.
No one can ever really navigate every life experience on their own- not without it taking its toll, at any rate. I feel rich beyond compare, wrapped in that cocoon of friendship, knowing that when tough times happen, we are never alone. I will do my best to be that friend for my friends, as well, supporting them when they face the inevitability of challenge or hardship in their lives. Human beings can be pretty amazing that way, can’t they? Times like these bring the good out in good people, and it is such a beautiful thing.
I am hoping that in the not too distant future, I will be ready to go to bat for a friend in need- even if it is just a friend who needs a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. My cooking isn’t so great, but a batch of cookies, a good book, or a bottle of wine might bring some cheer. Whatever I can do to bolster them, I will do. Pay it forward…every single time. The religion of kindness.