In the humble memory of “J’ s Dad” and my ability to sympathize!
I practically suck at lending a shoulder! I do, and of course, it’s not rocket science, it has got quite a lot to do with emotions and being there when one needs you etc. but then I don’t believe we are all good at it, I’m not at least, especially to people who I hold close to my heart, my sympathetic functionality nerve is more doomed than the international economic situation right now.
A super close friend of mine – ‘J’ (sticking to his initial because you don’t know him, so take the liberty of picking whatever name you like) lost his father to a long battle of multiple organs giving up on him one after another. I mean, and this is one of the major roadblocks in his life he’s trying to overcome among a million others, but that’s a story for another time. He broke the story to me middle of the night, and I was sleeping like it was my last one (all my periods of sleep are like that, I cut off from the universe when I sleep, no beep-bloop, nothing).
I woke up to his text notification, and believe you me, if it was anyone else, I would have dropped a text of how I’m sorry about it and how they should stay strong and kept my phone to charge and continued my day normally. But no, this was not some random person, this was ‘J’, the person who has been with me in times I gave up on myself. He has been the strongest pillar of support cementing or thrashing (as and when needed) every right or wrong decision I took, with no judgmental passes, nada!
How do I tell this man that it’s okay, it’s not, I know it’s not… I know how many plans he had made to try each day to ensure that his father stands next to him when he marries the love of his life (which was supposed to be last month, but did not happen, because COVID-19) (remember when I said a million other problems, yeah). I know his world must have fallen apart, and I couldn’t make it because we are in lock-down and I suck at telling my people how I would want to fix everything for them but no I just cannot. It took me hours to text him ‘what’, just this word, and another ten minutes of writing and deleting and then finally sending an ‘I’m here’, and I cannot even begin to tell you what happened on the call.
I mean do you know those people who will crack a very wrong timing joke to avoid the awkwardness of not knowing what to say? That’d be me! I actually did that and felt so fucking stupid about technology not introducing a time machine to go back and fix the mess you make (not that this would be the only one I would fix, but whatever). But the good thing about having people who know you so well is that they know even if you say the shittiest thing to them, they’ll get it, and to put it into a perspective, it has been 15 years, he’ll get it.
I would be lying if I say I would work on this part of me and try to make it better, I know I will not. I will not change anything in me unless it is a decision, I take for myself. I have managed to earn the people around me being this person and I don’t believe I need to add anyone who feels I need fixing. If I do not demand you to fix, I will not deliver it either. For now, ‘J’ is doing better, and hope things work out well for him, he is still registering what happened but I’m sure in time he’ll come around.
If I should die and leave you here a while,
be not like others sore undone,
who keep long vigil by the silent dust.
For my sake turn again to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand
to do something to comfort other hearts than mine.
Complete these dear unfinished tasks of mine and
I perchance may therein comfort you.
–Mary Lee Hall