Just Ask

Dogs and cats, living together

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.

Leave a comment


  1. Christi

     /  October 26, 2011

    *hugs* Anytime! and I mean that. I enjoy your company.

  2. just perfect. so true

  3. I’m so glad there was someone there to give you what you need! I wish I could be closer to help in some tangible way, though. I am sending you all the positive vibes I can muster, though!

  4. I wish I were there to be company in person, but I will be virtual company if I can! And just for the record, I think that most people really *do* mean “anything” (not the seed cakes, perhaps) … child care, meals, rides, laundry (wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else do your laundry?), errands, phone calls at all hours of the day and night. And if we can’t do it for some weird reason, we want to be the person you call so that we can find someone who *can* do what you need. Or at least, that’s been my experience.

  5. Kate Rezelman

     /  October 30, 2011

    Very wise, I did the journey with breast Cancer in 1997 and 1999 that left me joyfully alive with only one boob now. I remember making a list of all who said they would like to help and the many who did! A lot of times just a sidekick to rattle along with is a real blessing. I remember the 30 books i took out from the library as I suddenly educated myself, all spread out on the living room floor. Who knew there are at least 36 different kinds of breast cancer?? my ” cousin ” Marge Brugnoletti Smith and I burned up a lot of phone time for sure also. What a dear friend she was! Anyway I just am commenting to add my support from Bath NY and know that you are a strong and capable woman who will do as well as anyone can and obviously have a positive bent. Keep up the glitter pooping fish or whatever vision makes you laugh.

  6. Achariya

     /  October 30, 2011

    @ Jeff, Christi & Easss — thank you all for the support. I mean it! Hugs!
    @ Justine — I think it depends upon the person, and that you ARE the kind of person who means just about anything 😉
    @ Cousin Kate — Ah, I am sorry to learn after-the-fact of your breast cancer, and congrats on being a survivor! Yes, I’m keeping my confidence, so far anyway!


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