a couple of weeks ago I sent a private message to a friend on facebook. her phone had been disconnected and I wasn't sure how else to reach her. I only knew she was going through a most tumultuous and painful time and she was often on my heart and mind. I didn't say much in my message, just a "checking in to see how you are doing, thinking of you" sort of note. I didn't hear anything back but that didn't surprise me as I figured she might not have access to a computer on a regular basis.
this evening my doorbell rang and I opened the door to find my funny little friend shivering in the rain. I drug her inside and hugged her tightly. She looked like-- and I know she won't mind me saying this-- hell, with all she's been going through these past weeks. She caught me up (the condensed version) on her life and then said she'd really only stopped by to say "thank you".
Thank you for what was my query. I didn't do anything. Oh, but you did. You reached out and let me know you had not forgotten me. That was huge and it came at a time when I was feeling forgotten and ignored by so many others.
When someone goes through crisis, we show up, casseroles in one hand and comforting pats on the back in the other. We stay through the first wave of pain and try to help but when the funeral is over or the ashes have been swept up from the fire, we slip back into our comfortable lives, leaving our suffering friend to face another day of loneliness and pain. Most of us are not very good at reaching out and asking for help. We tend to crawl into the hole and lick our wounds in private yet how often do we wish someone would follow us and coax us back out and sit with us just for a little while longer?
I was reminded tonight that reaching out to a hurting friend really takes very little effort. It doesn't have to be a large act of kindness, just a small one can make a difference. And never think that the small act is insignificant. To my funny little friend, it was, in her words, HUGE.