If only it was this easy. Pull a string and help is on the way. You know, good help, the kind that is actually helpful.
I saw this in the bathroom at physical therapy where I am receiving very good help (finally – woohoo) for the pain in my face and jaw. I chuckled as I pulled out my phone and took a picture. I really do look for blog photos everywhere.
I have received all kinds of help over the years for my health, for everyday issues, for my late husband when he was sick, for our family when we were struggling after his death, for my grief, and so much more. My parents and my sisters have always been there to help. I have good friends. I am fortunate. I have health insurance. I can afford help if I need it.
But sometimes it is really hard to find help. Sometimes what is offered as help makes things worse, like medication that causes detrimental side effects (or a mouth guard that you are told to wear 24/7 and then find out has been torquing your jaw and making everything worse – ugh). We all have been on the receiving end of “helpful” advice – well meaning but totally wrong. Sometimes you have to search for help, advocate, stomp your foot, wait patiently, pray harder, persist, ask difficult questions, keep asking, and even just get lucky.
Pull the string, keep pulling, help is on the way.
Not to mention it is hard to ask for help. What do I need? Who do I ask? Who will listen? Sometimes the optimist in me gets in the way of asking for help. Things will be better tomorrow. The survivor/mom/control freak in me thinks I can take care of it myself. Surely I fix this/figure this out/overcome this/make this happen!
It is a skill. Learning not to catastrophize. Learning to recognize when you need assistance. Learning how to accept help. Learning how to stop help that isn’t working. And – this was a big one for me – learning that help can look different than you expect and how to appreciate what it has to offer.
There was no help for my late husband’s cancer. Nothing could slow the process. But there was help available to make him comfortable. Help arrived not as a cure, but as support that allowed him to say goodbye peacefully. Help was warm blankets in the hospital and a bird feeder outside our hospice room. Help was his family arriving from overseas because the necessary visas had been granted. Instead of asking for a miracle, I asked for respect and privacy and love. Somethings and people where not helpful – I learned to usher them to the door. Bad bedside manner is NOT helpful.
Some problems are clear and the help needs are simple. Got a dead car battery? Jumper cables and an extra set of hands is what you need.
Some issues are life long and complicated and messy and painful and forever. Like grief. like chronic pain. All around us are people suffering loss, mental illness, failing health, etc. etc. So many need help.
And so many of us can give help. We can cook meals, drive to appointments, hold the door open, teach something, donate money, offer companionship and on and on. And we can listen. That has been the most precious help I have received. Oh the listeners, you know who you are. Thank you for listening to me process over and over the loss, the parenting, the missing, the fear, the magical gift of new love, the pain in my face, the joy and sorrow in my heart.
As I continue to need help (who doesn’t need help) for my face pain, or for the on going process of living fully with grief and parenting children who are doing the same, or for whatever comes up, I know that hope is another sweet kind of help to give and receive. Realistic hope. Not hope that everything will be perfect. Not hope that it won’t hurt. Hope that someone will listen, hope to be understood, hope that the day will have a tender moment, hope that we can meet for a walk, hope that you can hear the strength in my voice even if I can’t, hope that you believe things won’t always feel this way, hope that tomorrow’s cup of coffee will be sweet and creamy and the mug will feel good in my hand and you will be there.
Can I do the same for you? It helps me to help you.
I wrote this for our kids…
I would gather the sand and sweep the rocks,
pull down a cloud and send back the rain.
I will hold the wind and set the tides
and carry hope for you.
I would untwist the wire and dig up the road,
plant the fields and multiply the flowers.
I will leaf the trees and paint the shadows
and dance you through.
I would sleep the nights and color the dreams,
brighten the days and lift your eyes.
I will sweeten the taste and drink the tea,
and hold this place for you.