I came back from the kids’ 3 year and 15 month well-visit thinking that perhaps I wasn’t.
“I really don’t feel well,” I told my sister who had watched my son while the girls and I were gone.
“You do feel warm,” she said surprised, as if she initially thought I was being dramatic (Now why would I do that?). “Go upstairs and rest. When Chloe goes down for her nap, I’ll take the kids to the pool so you can sleep.”
And that was that. My sister stayed at the house the rest of the day as I felt worse and worse. Based on the number of times I heard my children reprimanded and the fact that my sister gave up an entire day so that I could rest, I had already decided that I would brave taking all three kids with me to the doctor’s office the next day if I didn’t feel better.
The next morning the phone rang.
“Do you feel better?”
“No, I’m going to the doctor.”
“Noon–but Lisa, I’ll take the kids with me. I wasn’t going to call you–“
“–I know. That’s why I called.”
And Lisa showed up again. She took the girls with her for the whole afternoon while Caleb and I watched movies in bed. Lisa said she knew what it was like to be sick and alone and have to take care of a kid–it was miserable–so if she could help, she wanted to.
The next day my fever was down, but my throat still felt like a piece of bark was stuck in it. I was thankful to no longer feel achy, though. The phone rang again; this time my friend Dee was calling.
“Can I bring you dinner?”
“Um, yes,” I replied, relief washing over me as the chore of cooking was no longer upon me.
“What can you eat?”
At this point, I had only managed to eat chicken broth and popsicles, wincing all the while. My mind wouldn’t even let me think about food.
Dee brainstormed and determined that I might be able to wiggle down some lo mein, Matt could eat Mongolian Beef, and the kids could feast on a pizza. Less than an hour later, Dee showed up at my door with dinner for my entire family.
It was in that moment that I realized what made Lisa and Dee different from so many people. In this world there are those people who say, “Call me if you need anything!” They mean it and are full of good intentions.
But then there are those who don’t wait for the call–they’ll call so you don’t have to.
Lisa and Dee are part of that rare breed that anticipate others’ needs and act, putting aside their own schedules and agendas. I wish I could say that I am part of that breed. I have my moments. I have baked my share of bread and put together meals for neighbors that I didn’t know when I heard about a death in the family or a sickness, but I don’t know if acting as Lisa and Dee do is part of my DNA.
I have learned more by example, and I am still in the process of training myself to anticipate others’ needs. For some reason, I seem to do those good deeds more for those I don’t know, those possibly far away, than those with whom I share life. And while I don’t think I should stop caring about those outside of my circle of friendship, I do think that I should try to ease the burden of those within the circle, as well.
The problem with telling someone, “Call me if you need anything,” is that they probably won’t. I know I don’t. I don’t want to bother anyone; everyone’s so busy. Yet at the same time, I sincerely want people to call me, but I know all the reasons why they won’t. “She has three kids.” “She probably has a hard enough time getting dinner on her own table.” Sure, those reasons are true, but I don’t want my life to solely focus on my life.
Everyone is busy. I don’t know anyone who spends his or her day flipping through the channels while lounging on the couch. My days are full now–I can’t imagine what they will be like as my children get older! Between preschool, housework, church activities, attempts at exercise, I could easily fill my days with good activities. Perhaps I’d feel more refreshed, though, if I spent some of that time easing another’s burden, focusing on those connections that truly matter. What if we all acted like that, anticipating the needs of those around us, not waiting for a phone call but just showing up?
What Lisa and Dee did touched me. People might say, “That’s what family is supposed to do.”True friends act that way.” Maybe so. But many don’t.
I don’t, but I want to, so I’ve started examining myself. What hinders me from acting on kindness? Money? Sometimes. What if I reserved $15 in my wallet each month for the sole purpose of carrying out an act of kindness? Time? Of course. But how can I ever use that excuse when I see the time that others have sacrificed for me…and for something as little as strep throat. Fear of the kids getting sick? Sure, and that’s a good reason, but I can fear the possibility of something happening while the actuality of a friend needing a break from her children is happening down the street.
I have so much improving to do, but I’m going to try because, while I want you to call me if you need anything, I don’t want you to have to.