So many times when I was little my mum would tell me that it’s the thought that counts. As a little kid sat there looking at the socks my grandparents had bought me I would just think “but you always tell me that I have too many socks” (therefore completely missing her point). As I got older I learned that she is right, and this weekend proved that the thought isn’t what matters when you give someone a gift, or do something for them – the thought is the gift itself, and when someone is going through a rough patch, it is one of the most valuable gifts you could ever give them.
A family friend drove 110 miles to get to my house. And then when he got here, he took me to the beach, and pushed me (in my wheelchair, not in a horrendously violent action) along the seafront (we bought ice creams, ate chips on the beach, walked to the end of the pier, played in the arcades… Basically acted like ordinary teenagers.) Being out in the fresh air was SO GOOD! I love the outdoors and I’ve hated being stuck inside recently. When we got home, we watched a film. The next day, after letting me sleep in for ages, we went to the cinema to see the new Mission Impossible film (which was also, SO GOOD!).
I wanted. To cry (with joy)… Before he even got here. Just the thought that somebody was willing to go all that way for me was more than enough. Even if he never showed up, even if life got in the way, he had already made me smile so much by taking the time to care. We hadn’t seen each other since my 18th birthday. But that didn’t matter. He lives a long way away, our families don’t meet up very often (and when they do it’s just the adults now as all the kids have grown up). And he was there when it really counted – when I really needed someone.
Starting with the best intentions is all that really matters. It doesn’t matter where they get you, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, just as long as the intention is there. When everything is going wrong, it is hard to be positive. It is difficult to try for yourself, let alone for other people. But when you do feel like trying, I realised that it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, because having gathered up enough motivation to try is a huge step in itself. And we overlook that. We miss the achievements that really matter to us because we are too busy looking for the ones that we think matter to everyone else. Well guess what? Forget them.
For the few days before my friend got here, I was so unwell that I scared myself and everyone around me. I was so exhausted that I didn’t have the energy to eat, or to move much. I slept all day long. I ended up just having to sort of crawl to the bathroom (which resulted in a lot of rest stops to lay on the floor and wonder how I managed to get into this situation from the sport obsessed kid I was a few years ago) And it won’t stop until the hospital figure out a treatment plan so we can arrange my next admission, or until a cardiologist starts poking around with wires and stuff inside my heart (weird thought). I can’t fix myself. And that started to make me feel helpless, and scared. When you get stuck in a rut in life feelings like that seem to snowball and before you know it there is no point in anything. It is hard to imagine ever leaving the situation you are in.
But then someone gave me both reason an opportunity to try. (Last week it was a message from my favourite author, and this weekend it was a friend that I still can’t believe I am lucky enough to have) And yes just getting from the front door to the car was difficult, because my body just didn’t have enough energy to haul itself around. I felt stupid, and like a bit of a failure as a human being, and I got frustrated by my inability to human… But then I realised hey, I just made it out of the house somehow! And I felt pretty amazing then. I am grateful to have been given that opportunity. People have no idea how big an impact crater can be left by even tiny gestures.
It was nice to get a break from feeling like an unwell person. (I still felt unwell physically, I just thought and felt emotionally, like a person who wasn’t) It felt like old times, like things used to be between us when I was still me. And it was nice to be reminded that I am still the same person somewhere deep inside; that yes, I may be a bit of a mess right now, but I am not beyond hope, I am not so broken that I can’t be fixed. We never are. We feel like we are, but that is because circumstance has the power to rob us of our optimism. It takes time, and the right people, and maybe there will still be cracks and chips in who you are, but the pieces of ‘who you were’ are never lost, we just forget where we left them.
The beautiful thing about a soul is that it isn’t set in stone. Maybe that’s why the brain is the consistency of jelly – so that we can remould ourselves with ease, so that all the little broken pieces stick back together, and we remember what it is like to live again.
When someone is going through a hard time, the best you can do is try (to help them out of their situation, or make them happy, or do the right thing…) and it doesn’t matter if you mess up or get it wrong, because your presence (or your presents) mean more than you could ever really understand.
When you’re stuck in a rut, the fact that someone gave you a little note or a card, or decided to spend time with you, means that they remembered you, they thought of you, they wanted to share something with you… It means that you haven’t been left behind. It makes you feel valued. (And when you feel forgotten, or worthless, that is a pretty magical gift to receive)
(I was supposed to be listening to a Jenna & Julien podcast while I tried to persuade my brain to go to sleep… This post just sort of crept up on me, I have no idea where it came from… But I had to write it before the moment passed.)