I’ll Be There

2015 June 16

These three words are magical. We say them so often that sometimes their magic is overlooked. Only when we hear these words in the midst of a loved one’s uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and loss, however, can we truly understand what they mean.

Why is a willingness to be there so magical and so important?

  • When we ask someone to be there, we are also acknowledging that we don’t want to be left alone. The invitation, please be with me, is also a plea not to leave when all others seem to be exiting in the midst of illness—including friends, work colleagues, and even family. Illness reorganizes our world in ways that is hard to comprehend. When we ask someone to be there for us, we are also asking that they stay with us through the challenge even when everything we once knew—our physical, psychological, and social worlds—is changing around us.I'llbetheredoorwayimage
  • When we ask someone to be there, we are reminding ourselves and others who is special to us. We don’t just ask anyone to be there for us. When we are sick, ill, or dying, we typically retreat from the world around us. We don’t have the energy to live up to other’s expectations. We don’t have the strength to lift up others when we feel we must save our strength. In fact, we may only ask one or two people to bridge the divide between the world of the healthy and the world of the ill.  These special border-crossers, these people we ask to be there for us, are few and far between. They are our lifeline between who we were and who we are becoming. They walk into our life when others are walking away.
  • Physical presence provides comfort in markedly different ways than other forms of communication. There are so many wonderful and effective forms of communication available to us—phone, text, FaceTime, email, letter and so forth. In the midst of deep uncertainty, however, few people reach out for mediums of communication that require them to put into words what they are experiencing. This is partly because we don’t believe we have a vocabulary to speak of our illness in ways that others understand. When someone is physically with us, the burden of explaining, providing context, and putting into words is lifted from our shoulders. They are with us. They see us. They know and feel what we are experiencing in the moment. Not having to re-present our experiences provides comfort, solace, understanding, and peace. In these rare situations, the unspoken becomes eloquent.
  • When we are uncertain, we reach out to others. When you don’t know what is going on, when you don’t know what tomorrow brings, having an audience is essential to helping make sense. When something great happens to us, we want to announce it to others. Good news is easily packaged. It makes sense already—hence, the announcement. When illness, pain, and suffering are experienced, however, we need the presence of another to hear ourselves, out loud, describe and explain our situation so we can make sense of our situation. Illness doesn’t lend itself to announcements. It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s every-changing. It’s changing us. In these situations, we don’t need answers, we need an audience who will listen.

The choice of presence is the ultimate evidence of care. The mere willingness to respond to another’s plea to be there will make you different than most others. Presence is a scarce and precious resource in modern life that must be seen as courageous. The willingness to walk into another’s life when most others are leaving, yes, that is courage personified. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for the willingness to act in response to being there. 






2 Responses leave one →
  1. March 22, 2016

    I love this post and admit that it even made me teary. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the courage and strength it takes to be truly vulnerable and forthcoming. THAT is what inspires me the most because we can all relate. Thank you, Dear Sister, for sharing this with us. Your sharing makes ME feel stronger. So yes, thank you, thank you, thank you….
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  2. January 7, 2017

    Awesome post.|

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