The people who show up


Matt the day after surgery.  Things actually went seriously south after this, but they are stable now.

For better or for worse, the last month has given me a lot of insight into certain friendships.  First let me say that Matt has an injury, not an illness, and he will be totally fine in time.  I realize this is a situation of great good fortune and that in the big picture this is just a hiccup.  It is also true, however, that this has been a substantially difficult few weeks in our  family’s little life.  Reentry into school, restarting sports, all with just one driver and adding many (many) doctor’s and PT appointments on top of everything else has been challenging. There were some additional non-Matt-related hiccups in the first week or two of September that added texture and complexity to our lives.  Everyone is fine now.

I also work full time, which is not inconsequential. In short, this has been a challenging time.  And certain people have absolutely blown me away with their support.  I will never forget the friends who showed up on our doorstep bearing food, sent gifts, or offered help.  People have sent and lent books and given many suggestions of things to read, watch, and think about.  People have come by to sit and keep Matt company for meals.  People have helped me with driving.

The kindness of people – family, close friends, and, frankly friends who weren’t that close before (but are now) is hugely notable.  It goes without saying that not everyone has responded this way.  That’s not what I want to dwell on.  What I want to consider, celebrate, and ostentatiously acknowledge, is the kindness of people in our lives who’ve gone out of their way to both help and check on us.  Even a simple text checking in and offering help goes SO FAR.  Seriously. The generosity of so many people has moved me and indelibly changed how I think about them.

It also has made me consider my own behavior in the past when friends near or far have struggled. I have been feeling a lot of guilt about certain instances in the past when I wasn’t there enough for friends.  I did not realize the insensitivity of not checking in, and now I do.  There are the friends who show up, and my devout, deliberate intention going forward is to be one of them for those I love.  It takes so little, honestly.  A phone call.  A swing by when you’re out doing errands.  A text.  I am sorry, and I am grateful, at the same time, all the time, right now.

Let’s be the people who show up.

27 thoughts on “The people who show up”

  1. This is an important point, about being the kind of friend who shows up, and it can be done in one way or another regardless of one’s circumstances. I had a different realization recently, somewhat related. This past weekend I got to go have a real visit with an old friend, whom I’ve only seen on the fly in recent years. It was great for that reason, but it was also the first time in a long time that I’ve had a couple of days of just having conversations with another adult (my husband and I talk a lot, but the kids are in the mix and things are hectic). I was kind of shocked in retrospect to hear myself talk at length–how negative and judgmental I’ve allowed myself to become about a lot of things, and more importantly, about a lot of people, partly because I think I’ve subconsciously decided that snap judgments are all I have time for. It’s not true, but I needed the reminder.

  2. I’m so glad your village has risen to the occasion. In situations like these it is so valuable to have friends who show up, but perhaps even more so, friends who just do things. The offer of “What can I do?” is nice. But the friend who says, “I’ll be there to pick up your son for soccer practice at 5:45,” without being asked is even better.

    I also loved your reference to Liz Gilbert’s line about casseroles in your Instagram post. There is so much wisdom in that passage.

  3. So important, to be the people who show up. I’m struggling with this in my life right now, as a few friends (near and far) are hurting. And I’m glad Matt is on the mend, however slowly. xo

  4. So glad that you have people willing to show up for you and help out. It humbles the soul to see people turn out and I always relate it to It’s a Wonderful Life scene at the end when George is in trouble and his brother up after flying through a snow storm to the houseful of people helping George and his family and while raising a toast states ‘To my big brother George, the richest man in town’ Rich in all the best ways, friendship, kindness and generosity.

  5. This post rings true and close to my heart. My husband just went through a stem cell transplant and was hospitalized for a month. Friends and acquaintances blew me away with their love and generosity. I know I will be a better friend to those around me because of this experience. Now I know the importance of a call or text to check in. I’ve learned to reach out to anyone struggling rather than debate whether or not it is appropriate. People don’t know what to do when tragedy occurs and sometimes say nothing rather than say the wrong thing. I know now that saying something is all that matters. I am so grateful for those that carried me and my kids through these last several months.

  6. I have been thinking of you so much the last week. Just today I visited your Facebook page to see how you are. And now I see this post. Maybe this is why you’ve been on my mind? Because I was supposed reach out, touch your heart and say hi. Hi.

    I have been thinking of similar threads, seeing how I want to be a better friend. Healing wishes to Matt and big love to all of you. Xoxo

  7. My mother-in-law passed away at the beginning of the summer and I was so incredible touched by the people who reached out. One friend had her kids and their babysitter pick me and my kids up from the airport in the middle of the day and bring us home so we didn’t have take a cab. They had a bag of groceries ready for us and food for that night’s dinner so I didn’t have to think about it. Another gently insisted that she bring dinner over one night after we got back. We were home and physically capable of making dinner but emotionally it was so nice to have someone looking out for us. It’s a good reminder about the importance of action not just good intention. Even a check-in text helps when things are hard.

  8. It’s so interesting, the experiences we have that show us ourselves, right? I think the key is remaining open to those lessons. xox

  9. That is for sure one of my favorite parts of Eat Pray Love. And yes. It’s the specific offer, or even the assumption that X is happening, that is the most helpful. Though honestly the text “you ok?” has gone a long way for me, too. Means a lot.

  10. I’m sorry your friends are hurting. As always, hugely grateful for your words, here and elsewhere in the ether. I haven’t commented yet but loved your post today. xox

  11. I am so sorry about your husband but hope he is on the mend? That is not easy at all. My father in law has had a heart, kidney, and stem cell transplant and the stem cell was for sure the most challenging. I’m learning the same thing too: even when I hesitate or wonder about the possibilities of being “wrong” or “overstepping” if I reach out, I should just do it.

  12. Exactly. So well put. It’s feeling like someone is taking care of me that is the most powerful. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother-in-law’s passing. xo

  13. Lindsey,
    One again you’ve captured exactly how I’m feeling. My mom died two weeks ago, and it has been two weeks filled with so many different emotions. Recognizing “the people who show up” has been a huge part of that. I truly try to be that person, but I know for sure there are times when I’ve missed the mark. So my overwhelming emotions aren’t directed to those who haven’t (I know how quickly life gets in the way), but for the countless people on the edges of my life who have, in so many different ways. It’s overwhelming. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I hope Matt’s healing is nearly complete.

  14. Denise, I am so sorry about your mother’s death. I am sending my best and hoping that a great many people show up for you now and in the next weeks and months. xox

  15. Love this post, Lindsey. So so true. BTDT with the suddenly ill husband, opens your eyes (and heart) to so much. Truly hoping Matt is on the mend, and thank you for putting it all into your always wonderful words.

  16. Oh yes, Lindsey. I feel similarly. In the past I know I could’ve done better, and I will going forward, I have already in some cases. Because I know how crucial it is to feel carried by friends and their love. I’m so glad you and your family had many of those kinds of friends. And also so glad all will be well with your family in time.

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