A lot of people have said this to me in the past few weeks: “If you need anything, just ask.”
This is such a lovely phrase. It also has a lot of leeway, and for a while it stymied me. What should I think about it? Was it just a vague way of saying “Text me between the hours of 6 and 8 PM”? Or “If you’d like lasagne, I will make it and deliver it to your house”? Or “I am available for childcare”? I suspect that whenever people use this phrase, they mean a different (and very personal) thing, the one magical thing that they want to and are able to give to a person with an illness.
I admit that I came up with an impossible laundry list just to take people off the hook. “I need the following things, since you asked: A new small intestine, a year in Middle Earth with Elrond as my doctor, a dwarf mountain lion (housebroken), a harem of Hobbits all skilled in the art of making seed cakes.” Can’t do any of that? Then don’t worry about it. 😉
But then I had an experience yesterday that opened my eyes to what I DO need.
At lunch, I had a number of medical errands to run (part of the ‘work’ of cancer, making sure I gathered all the records that I needed for my own files). Before I left, I knew that if I did all that driving by myself, my brain would start on a downward hamster-wheel spiral that generally ends up with me dead in a year and my daughter sobbing over my grave. Never wanna go to that place, so I asked my coworker for a very simple thing…
Her company. Christi (thank you Christi!) grabbed her sandwich and drink and joined me during my errands. Having someone to chat with about random stuff stopped me from plotzing (yiddish word for mulling over depressing stuff), and we didn’t even need to talk much about cancer. Her company kept my focus up, and the errands were even kinda fun.
So the next time I’m asked if I need anything, I will say this: Drop me a line sometime and talk about your life. Chat with me and distract me from my own mind for five minutes. Just give me a bit of your time and company, and it will benefit me enormously.
And that’s my answer.