There are times that I think, "what did I do to deserve this?" when faced with the startling kindness of friends.
We have received so many amazing meals in the last few weeks. Our friends Dawnellen and Kurt cooked a magical chickpea curry and frosted Halloween cupcakes right before our eyes. Hondo and Alycia prepared us a medley of salad, quiche and lasagna. Then, Alycia's sister Greta - whom I have never met - treated us to mushroom and pepper quesadillas and chocolate chip pumpkin bread (which actually evaporates at room temperature). Tracey, my colleague at Girls' LEAP, besides loaning me the first two seasons of "The Office," brought over stuffed peppers - with vegetarian "lamb." Margot loaned her crockpot with some starter veggies for convenient stewing. The list goes on for a long time.
I have been transported to appointments. Many friends have lent their healing touch - through massage and energy work. Even the calls and emails buoy my spirits. When first released, I was taken in by Deborah and Phil for two weeks; now, I spend Monday nights at their house to ease the commute to Girls' LEAP. (Okay, I can't fib - it's really for the sci-fi tv shows on Monday night...who am I?) The help has been so valuable; besides spending a lot more time doing mundane tasks and physical therapy homework, we need to know that the community is there for us.
Our friends Rob and Aviva have helped as much as anyone. It has been hard for me to grasp at times. I assume that we are imposing, being a burden by needing this help. Rob and Aviva came bringing arugula, squash and fruit crisp while I stayed with Deborah and Phil. Rob has taken me to a few medical appointments. Lately, Rob has been escorting me on the 3/4 mile walk from Girls' LEAP to his house on Tuesday afternoons. Aya, their 14 month old daughter, rides in the backpack, then coaches me on walking when we arrive at their apartment.
At several points along the way, Rob and Aviva have thanked me for inviting them into my healing journey. Thanked me! I'm starting to let it soak in, though it's not intuitive for me. Rob and Aviva have plenty to do in raising their daughter in a kind and intentional way. I hardly understand how they are thanking me for adding more responsibilities. Other friends have said that it is great that we have communicated what we needed.
A quote on a recognition wall at Simmons College reminds that the point is not to pay back kindness, but to pass it on.
I am overwhelmed with kindness. It makes me look at the times that I have been self-absorbed or ill-attuned to another's needs. Feeling this kindness from friends makes me want to be there when the next person needs help. It makes me want to pass it on.