Day 16: Care

In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.

–Deirdre Sullivan

I went to a funeral today. After a yearlong battle with leukemia, a young man, not even 40, passed away, leaving behind a wife and four young children. Truly tragic.

I had known the man and his wife as work colleagues many years back. I had stayed in contact by email for a little while, but it had probably been two or three years since I had been in touch with either one of them.

I remember hearing from a mutual friend about a year ago when the husband was first diagnosed, but I didn’t reach out then.

And then a few weeks ago, I heard through someone else that our friend was in the hospital with a bad lung infection.

And then on Monday I heard he had passed.

Several years back, I heard a woman named Deirdre Sullivan read her essay for NPR’s “This I Believe” segment. The title of her essay was “Always Go to the Funeral,” advice her father had given her as a girl, which she has now expanded into a personal credo. It’s about doing the right thing, she explains, even when it feels uncomfortable, even when it is inconvenient. Because it’s the right thing to do.

I used to hate funerals. I hated that awkward feeling of not knowing what to say that would express my sympathy. Or worse: knowing that there was nothing I could ever say that would sound completely sincere.

It was only after my own brother died that I realized that it’s the showing up that really matters, not the words.

Love, compassion, sympathy… those are big words that sometimes I have a hard time living up to.

“Caring” sets the bar so much lower. So low, in fact, that when I put my choice of actions into those terms–care or don’t care– it’s hard for me to turn away from saying “I care.”

I’m here because I care.

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