I was a relatively new member at a small church in Atlanta when I was grieving a loss. Over the previous two years I had faced mental health challenges, and as a single mother through donor insemination, I not did have a partner to help out or rely on. I had to utilize foster care and eventually place my daughter for adoption.
Most Sundays, some of the congregation would go out to dinner after services. I was invited along to dinner one night; reluctantly I went, but I ended up having a fairly good time. While at dinner a woman approached me. I later learned that she was an adoptive mother. She offered to come over and read her book at my house. Well, I thought, this was strange. Why would she want to read her book at my house? She was not offering to read her book to me. I did not know what to make of this offer, but she seemed to need somewhere to read her book, so I said OK.
The next week she showed up. She sat in my living room and read her book. That day I got out of bed. The next time she came I did some dishes. She came again and I did some laundry. She just kept showing up. I had given up on life, but she just kept showing up for me. The reality was she was not able to say anything that would have made me feel any better. No one knew what to say to me. This was not even a casserole situation. Everyone else stayed away.
She made all the difference in the world in those early days after losing my daughter. I am so grateful for her presence. We eventually began doing chores together as I prepared to sell my house. She even sat with me as I cleaned out my daughter’s bedroom. It was an unbearable process that brutalized me at my core. I cannot quantify what an impact she had on me. Sometimes there are no words, and we just need to be present for each other.
When I do public speaking, people often ask me how they can help a loved one. I tell them this story. How she showed up for me in the absence of words or actions. Sometimes you just need to go read your book in their living room and the rest will come.
My new friend and I are now old friends. You can now find us at the IHOP on Saturday mornings sharing coffee and showing up for each other.