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Posts Tagged ‘caring’

I had an entirely different subject picked out for my musings today but having just completed a number of interactions with some of MySpace “friends”, I have decided to go in a different direction.  I have made a connection with so many wonderful, strong, caring and sharing new people there that I just have to share. 

The last place that I ever expected to meet such a group of people was through a social networking site.  Most of them are survivors or caregivers to survivors.  Their stories are absolutely amazing and the depths to which they have had to go in order to survive is nothing short of miraculous.  And for all that they have endured; the one theme that I see constantly repeated is that they care about other people to a degree not normally seen and that they are willing to share themselves and their experiences with others so that others don’t feel so alone.

For those who are here in support of me as a cancer survivor, I have received tons of wonderful prayers and blessings and offers of help if there is anything that I need.  I have received the stories of so many who are going through radiation and chemotherapy for anywhere from the first to the fourth time.  And yet, there they are, reaching out to me with their prayers and apologizing for not being able to write sooner because they have been too sick or preparing for surgery or recovering.  I have received so many notes of thanks from those who are out there fighting their own battles for the fact that I am willing to share my own story, something to which they can relate and appreciate and understand.  They are letting me know how much they feel supported in their own struggles when others take the time to listen and share and pray for them as well.  And to all of those caregivers, I must keep telling you that you have the harder part and that you will never know how much you are appreciated.

There are those who have come to me in support of my being a survivor of domestic abuse.  They have shared the awful atrocities that they have endured, the ends to which they have been driven in their own retaliations and lives that have been full of nothing but pain for as long as they can remember.  And they have come here to share their stories so that others can know that there is no shame in these lives, that there are many others who know the same experiences and to thank others who are willing to speak out and tell the world that this is not right and is not acceptable and they are not to blame.

So, to every single one of you who has taken the time to write to me, who has posted words of kindness and understanding, who has shared your own story to help others and who has let me know that by my sharing my experiences that I have helped you, I thank you.  Each one of you is a very special person because you are reaching out to others with your love and caring.  You are strong and courageous in your own survival.  You couldn’t be a better “friend” if you knew me intimately in person for what you have given to me.  And as I am sure that each of you knows about me by now that if there is ever anything that I can do to help you, I will do so.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers every day.

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While I personally had a pretty darn good week, a lot of people around me have not faired so well.  My sister and her husband dashed off to the Netherlands as a result of the doctors finding a large tumor in his mom’s upper stomach area.  They had planned to go next month for her birthday but this emergency resulted in an immediate change of plans.

My sister-in-law is also having a tough time of it.  I called to chat with her but it was really a hard day for her so I will try again tomorrow.  But she is having many difficult days since my brother died in March.  I know how much he meant to me so I can’t even begin to imagine how hard his loss is for her.  It is so hard when you feel so powerless to do anything to help.

Several other friends have had a pretty tough week and at least for them, since I am in close proximity, I can join them, listen to what they have to say, provide any insight I may have into their situations but most importantly just share my love. 

I noticed that when I am having a tough time of it, if I just tell my husband or a friend about what I am feeling, if I just get a big hug in return, there is nothing that is more helpful.  Just to know that another person cares and is willing to give a part of themselves to us as their efforts to help and support us makes all the difference.  When not in close proximity, I always pick up the phone to find out how the other person is doing just to let them know that I care.  And they always know that extra prayers are coming their way and I am always there to listen should they choose to share their situation.

I have also noticed that there are a lot of others around me at these times that are having a tough time of it because of the current financial situation.  I really feel badly for those who are in a crunch not because of crazy spending and debt because of their having to buy stuff but those who have been doing their very best and have been struggling from paycheck to paycheck for some time.  Although I am not in a financial situation to help in a monetary way, I let them know that I am there for them and that I will do anything that I can to be there for them especially if their situation goes from bad to worse.

It seems that so many people are just feeling so helpless with regard to their personal situation and don’t know where to turn for help or encouragement.  If we just let them know that someone is there for them, that someone cares about them and loves them dearly, it does make a difference in their lives.  That is the very least that each of us can do.

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Last week’s blog was posted several days early as Kirk and I headed out to Florida on Easter Sunday to attend my brother’s funeral on Monday. I cannot begin to explain the experience that I had. I knew that my brother was very special in his kindness and caring and willingness to help others and I was so very happy that he was able to combine all of these wonderful attributes into a very successful career. But what I learned at that funeral left such a lasting impression on me that I really felt so full of joy.Standing outside of the church before the funeral began, there were 5 gentlemen who sought me out and introduced themselves to me. They all were men who had been hired by my brother to run operations at several of the plants around the country that were owned by the company for which my brother worked. They explained how they felt about the person that they had known and one even told me that my brother had been his mentor. Each was so genuine in his love and respect for my brother as they paid their respects to him that I knew how much he had meant to each of them.There was also another man who was there by himself for the funeral who indicated that he had to leave immediately afterward to return to his job but who took the time to tell his story to Kirk and me. This gentleman had been working at the plant in Atlanta and had repeatedly asked to be transferred to the plant in Florida but to no avail. One day my brother happened to be walking through the Atlanta plant when this individual decided that he would approach him and ask him directly about the possibility of a transfer. He told us that within one week he had received the transfer for which he had waited so very long and he made it very evident how much that had meant to him. There was no way that he would miss this opportunity to pay his final respects to a man who had changed his life forever.

And then there was the man who obviously was my brother’s best friend. He gave a beautiful eulogy and really captured the essence of my brother. Later at the gathering after the funeral, he and his wife went out of their way to join Kirk and me and to not only tell us so many things that I didn’t know about my brother but also to tell us how my brother felt about my sister and me and what we meant to my brother. It didn’t take long to realize that if my brother had shared such intimate details with his friend that this guy must really be someone so very special and before the end of the day, we sure understood that he truly was a special person and a special friend to my brother.

This friend shared a very special story with us. It seems that when my brother lost first a kidney and then a lung to renal cell cancer, he became involved in not only volunteering with his wife at the Ronald McDonald House but also started making calls to other survivors of this type of cancer. He made a special connection with a gentleman in the state of New York who wanted to give up on life on a good number of occasions but my brother would continually talk to him and explain to him about all the reasons that he had to continue. Over the next 14 years of my brother’s life, they continued to talk and he continued to motivate his new friend to keep on going. My brother passed away on Tuesday, March 18th but his friend’s family did not tell him about the passing until Easter Sunday. Within 48 hours, my brother’s New York friend passed away also and went to join the man who had kept him going in this life for so very long.

What a man my brother had become. What a legacy he had created for himself and how fortunate I felt to have had the opportunity to learn all that I had about him. How could I possibly mourn my brother’s death knowing all that he had suffered through and all that he had accomplished? No, I was so grateful that he had made such a difference in so many peoples’ lives, that his pain and his fight with cancer were finally over and I celebrate a life so very well lived.

 

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