When we were kids we used to have this clever way of holding hands to make a swing to carry each other around. We’d link arms in some kind of formation where you’re holding my arm which is holding your arm - a little like when you close a box and each corner is tucked under the adjacent side so they’re all holding each other closed. In this linked-up way we were able to carry the load of a third friend with ease. Holding me, holding you, we could carry far more weight.
Today Rich and I did something which is very common behavior for us normally, but given the extraordinary circumstances, took our friends by surprise. We expressed concern at how they were doing and suggested ways we could help lessen their load.
“How can you be worrying about us at a time like this?” Our friends were, albeit briefly, taken aback. And yet because of who they are, and because of who they’ve always been to us, they very quickly changed their tune and graciously accepted the help we were offering.
You see, when I leave Kiara in the care of a friend at the hospital and arrive home at lunchtime to release the two friends who are freely teaching my younger kids, and find two new friends dropping off meals and explaining to another old friend how to prepare them, I am part of a world in which we hold each other up. I am part of a world in which I hold you, holding me, and we can carry extraordinary loads.
It’s not always easy to accept help, and sometimes we think it’s easier to go it on our own. It’s seems more difficult to explain to someone what we need than just to do it ourselves.
Kiara is getting bored and wanting to go exploring. She doesn’t want to wear her helmet, but it’s time to get used to it if the doc is going to release her without her skull in place. So we put on her super-flashy, mirror-silver helmet (a result of online shopping gone wrong), some comfy new treads to prevent slipping, and we head off down the four flights of stairs and out the front door. We’re trying to go in stealth mode so we can escape more than just a few steps into the wide world, but Kiara is not nailing this ‘incognito’ thing. A celebrity in a reflective skater’s helmet is hard to miss. We are bounced by the security guard and slink back into the hospital foyer.
On the way back up the stairs Kiara is holding me holding her and she teases, “I think you’re more out of breath than me!”
“How rude! I’ve been sitting by your bedside this last month. Besides, I’m breathing just fine!”
We’re laughing and people are staring but it’s fun to be out of the room.
From the first she heard of the accident, her concern was for me. When I tell her my brain is more muddled than hers, she asks, “Did you bump your head, too?”
She’s caring for me while I’m caring for her, but she’s graciously accepting help, too. It’s not easy to let your mom wash you when you’re a young teen, but she can’t bend with the bone in her tummy. She surrenders willingly to needing help.
Our willingness to surrender to support determines the measure of our strength. Holding me, holding you. Together we are stronger. Together we can do more.