Ah…Who doesn’t love a good Bette Midler song? I know I do! When I was thinking about what to write for this installment, the lyrics to “Friends” kept coming into my head- so much so, that I’m taking a break from the usual storytelling to focus on something much more important: Being there for each other.
How many songs can you name that are about friends, friendship, being there for you, that’s what friends are for, etc.?! BUT- in real life, how many times are people there for you when you need them most? HOW can we be there for others? In my cancer journey, I’ve learned so much about others being there, and also about being there for others- in ways that are sometimes unexpected- and I’d like to pass it along…
When I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and got the courage to share it with everyone- there was a massive outpouring of love from all over. Friends on Facebook shared about me, and their friends expressed their concern, and the ripple effect took over to the point where I was inundated with texts, private messages, calls, emails- it was overwhelming, but it was amazing. I have always tried to find the kindness in others, and I’ve always tried to be kind to everyone I’ve come across in life, because, hey- we’re all dealing with some sort of shit in our lives, and a simple act of friendly kindness can go a long way.
This outpouring flooded my being with a sense that, “I can do this! I will get through this, because look at all of these people that have been through it and are willing to share their experiences with me, and THEY got through it. And I have an army of people behind me praying, sending good wishes, etc.”
It was what kept me going, even during the times when I was ready to give in. In addition, my very best friend would call, text, PM me and send cards just to say she was thinking of me, or to ask how I was. All of these things made me feel comfortable sharing MY experiences, and even though I didn’t realize it in the beginning- by sharing- I was helping others to get through their own journeys, and to be more comfortable with themselves.
So- HOW can we be there for others in their time of need? Well…as they say: Just show up. You don’t need to have the right words, you don’t have to understand what someone is going through (because there is a 99.999% chance that you don’t, because we each go through things in our own unique way), you don’t need to send flowers, or bring a gift. The gift is your genuine caring, and inspiring others through your example.
Send a quick text, email, note, private message, call someone up (even if you leave a message)- just to let them know that you are there. There for them whenever they need you to be. Even if you just say, “Hey- just thinking of you”- it means the world.
Be there- but respect when someone needs “Alone Time”– A lot of the time people love to have visits, phone calls, etc., but if you call and the person doesn’t answer- it may just mean that they need space. Don’t take it personally, and DON’T stop being there!
Post something that means a lot to you- because it may be something that changes the outlook of another person who needs it. Write about how pissed off you were when something happened- someone may need to see that it’s okay to feel different things on their own journey. Did a seemingly corny inspirational message on Facebook make you teary-eyed? Don’t be embarrassed- Post the damn thing, because others will need it too!
Be open to giving AND receiving– Sometimes people need you, and sometimes you need them…
Folks- we’re all put on this Earth to help one another- That’s the only way we’re all going to get through life…
I’ll leave you with another lyric that fits in with everything I’ve written:
“Lean upon me
I’ll lean upon you
We’ll be okay”
-The Dave Matthews Band, #34
Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher. She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group. She loves to sing, create and help others, and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.