Aug 09


My father is in the hospital again. This post isn’t about that, but yet it is.

My mom and I were sitting on some comfortable benches by the elevators at the hospital waiting for something, when this woman started punching the buttons angrily and yelling into her cellphone. She hung up her phone, and when she turned to us, we could see she had been crying hard. She paced for a second then said “I can’t do this anymore.” It was to no one in particular, but Mom and I went to her. She sobbed and angrily told us about booking a vacation, paying for it, then finding out her husband had cancer. The place she rented refused to give her any refund. I have a feeling it was the last straw at that moment. Her elevator dinged, and we didn’t see her again.

I felt the need to try to explain to Mom why I got up, even though she got up with thought, just like me. She then told me a story I had never heard before. My dad had his first heart attack when I was in seventh grade. I never got to see him in the hospital. I only got to talk to my mom briefly when she’d call at nights. I never thought what it was like for her.

She told me she was sitting in the cafeteria, terrified and alone. Her mate and best friend was sick and she didn’t have anyone. She told me she must have looked so sad and forlorn because a man sat down with her and said she needed to have faith things would would work out for the best either way. She needed to believe she would be okay no matter what happened, and all of her worrying was just hurting her. I never knew about this exchange, but it had to have helped Mom since twenty years later she still remembered him and the kindness.

Our society is a society of not getting involved if you see others in pain. We are taught not to intrude, or to fear being used or hurt. Bullshit. The day I held that girl after she was raped and vowed never to watch another human in pain without at least offering to help, I’ve tried my best to do right by her. I fail a lot. I’m awkward as hell. I can’t really read social cues. It doesn’t matter.  It is better to intrude awkwardly for a few second than to let another person be alone if you can help it.

Here’s the deal: our hearts are not filled with a limited amount of love. We don’t have to horde our love. Love is one of those things that the more you give, the more you get. You can love someone for the 4 minutes they need it sitting in a hospital cafeteria table, and you will be the richer for it.

Loving does open us open to pain. Pain sucks. The thing about pain: it gets better. The fear of pain is worse than the pain itself. So, risking yourself to make a connection with someone in need might lead to rejection. It might lead to some unscrupulous person telling you some bullcrap to try and get something from you. So the fuck what? When you risk, and you make a connection with someone, the reward is so much more worth the pain in spite of what the fear tells you.

Go out, smile at strangers, give compliments, spread some light. It is the best way we have to change the world.


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