My intention and direction with this blog was always to promote kindness, gratitude, and a pathway to a happier, more fulfilling life in a time when the world seems smothered in ugliness. As I post various fun and interactive ideas to sprinkle kindness and love wherever you roam, I wanted to discuss the best but sometimes most difficult act of love and kindness one can offer. It’s certainly one of the kindest gifts one can give but certainly comes with challenges for most. This, my friends, is the gift of time.
What’s a gift without a little effort involved? We all have a story of who came to our rescue when others dropped the ball. A time when we were at rock bottom emotionally or physically and felt incredibly alone or scared. If you were to ask anyone who those people were regardless of the amount of time that has elapsed, they could tell you. A deep appreciation would be visible in their eyes and they could instantly identify who immediately came to their side, held their hand, and lifted them higher in their darkest hour. Almost always it’s the person that provided them the most expensive gift of all: time.
Have you noticed that as you grow older and life becomes so busy there’s barely time to sleep, your list of people you spend your weekends with shrinks significantly? Analyze who those people are and I would venture to guess if you are a happy and fulfilled person that time is spent with people who have at some point given you such a gift. My life has been a whirlwind the last 5-6 years but after my experience during my quest to have a family I realized how invaluable this gift is and only the really lucky and special people are given that gift when it matters most.
Here’s how I was introduced to this most precious gift
In 2008-2009 we suffered through several miscarriages resulting in the dreaded IVF process. A very private journey of doctor appointments, meds, shots, money and stress suddenly became very public when it landed me in the hospital right after my transfer. IVF threw my petite body into hyperstimulation and my body retained over 20 lbs. of fluid in a matter of days until I woke up one night unable to breathe. In the middle of the night and in the pouring rain (which we all know NEVER happens in SoCal) I was told my lungs and all my organs were filled with fluid and failing to work properly so I was going to be admitted to the hospital for a long time. “Oh and by the way, congratulations! You’re pregnant!”, said the ER doctor. Somehow this wasn’t how I imagined finding out if the IVF worked but I was in too much pain to care nor could I talk with the oxygen mask strapped on my face. I was admitted for quite some time over the holidays in 2009 but at least they gave me an ocean view to watch the Christmas boat parade, right?
It was going to take months to release the fluid and it was so painful that I was fed morphine and anti-nausea meds like it was candy. So sick I couldn’t stand, talk, read or watch TV. I had no choice but to lay there day after day staring at the walls wondering if this pregnancy would make it with all the trauma to my small body. I had never been educated so quickly on anything as I was on how heartfelt and rare it was for people to give their time. Many I thought would come and visit me did not. Some I would never expect to show up at that hospital did. It was the holiday season, the busiest time for everyone and most of my friends and people that came to sit with me are parents and had a million things to do. But here is what they did:
They sat there with me. Many times in silence just for company as I cried from the pain and fear.
They came in groups and told stories and laughed and did things to make me smile even if I couldn’t really talk back.
There was a brunch planned with some friends one of those weekends. They canceled their plans and brought the brunch to the hospital and carried on the girl’s day in my room instead.
A girl that worked for me came several times and just sat with me for hours. She had better places to be but saw in my eyes how much I desperately needed company. So, she stayed.
A new friend brought her husband and a gift. Some cozy socks for the hospital and knitted a beautiful scarf for me that must have taken her days to complete.
My husband came straight from work after an hour commute every day to sit with me in the evenings.
Former co-workers from my corporate days came in a big group and caught me up on everyone cracking jokes. The most surprising thing about this group that came to visit was most of them were men. I expected my girlfriends to come but not the guys – they certainly showed me, didn’t they?
Our Priest that at the time I had barely known since converting came and sat by my bedside and comforted me during this time of ambiguity that things would get better.
None of these things or these people I will ever forget. I still get together with the 3 girls for brunch every couple of months.
That girl that worked for me that stayed day after day is now one of my closest friends.
The new friend that knitted the scarf is now one of my best friends and our husbands we believe are each others’ “soul mates” (truly, they wondered where the other had been all their lives).
My husband recently did the same thing sitting with my 75 year old father in the hospital after major surgery while swamped with work because he knew he would like the company. The list goes on and on. These same people were there for me once I was released from the hospital care but still home sick after 12 weeks of meds, little food, IV’s, and allowed to drink nothing but Gatorade for 3 months. Home, practically on bed rest for 37 weeks and they consistently called, visited, brought meals and were there to talk to in order to escape my fear of not making it to the end of the pregnancy.
Fast forward 5 years later and I am still always in awe of those that demonstrate their kindness through time. My staff that has come over until 11:00pm or midnight to help launch ISP. A friend that has given me so much advice and insight over lunches – advice that most other people she knows pay her high dollar for, she has offered me her time while being busier and more in demand than ever. I would consistently ask why she was so nice to me as she spent hours with me with priceless information all the while her phone ringing off the hook with Hollywood producers booking up her schedule for her own projects. She finally told me to stop asking her “why all the kindness?”. She was giving her time because she is amazing, selfless and was helping out of love. End of story.
The guys from The Kindness Offensive in London that have emailed and Skyped with us with so much invaluable advice I can’t even begin to list what we’ve been able to accomplish with it. So many I could mention that have enhanced my life for the better.
These are my favorite gifts I’ve received. Gifts filled with love and dripping with kindness. You know who you are and I am forever indebted to you.
Moral of the story? Kindness doesn’t cost a thing and when combined with the precious gift of time- I promise your recipient will be forever grateful. They will never forget, even though you might. Don’t worry about how to act, what to say or not say. Just be present and the message will be clear.
So the next time someone you know needs something, even if they are well and not in a hospital like I was – offer them your time. Take them to lunch, take them somewhere they wouldn’t go normally to escape life for a while and just enjoy each others company. Sounds a little simplistic? It is, but the memory and appreciation of that gift will last longer than the one you would have wrapped.
Oh yeah, and about that pregnancy….Peanut & Angel were born on July 27, 2010. They just turned four and get a ridiculous amount of attention wherever they go. It’s frankly just wrong. I think they conspired together in the womb to take over the world.
And lastly, for those of my “hilarious” friends who continue to give me Gatorade each year for my birthday to make me gag on the spot, I still don’t touch that devil’s juice after my experience but the twinsies love it. I wonder why?