The Samantha Years

The Other Side of the Fence

It’s hard to worry about your friends. Tonight Samantha is doing well and I can make meals for others who are in hospital. I can send condolences to our dear friend who just lost his father. I can do this tonight because (knock, knock, knock on wood) Samantha is doing well.

I’m not used to being on the other side of the fence and frankly it’s a bit eye opening and a bit nerve wracking.

I worry. I read updates like a fiend. I wait for updates. I talk to others just to relieve my fear. I think I’m not doing enough. Am I doing too much? I don’t want to bother anyone.

I wonder if this is how people feel about us when Samantha is really sick and in the hospital.

It’s no fun.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s even less fun to be on the other side and I am grateful that I have time and energy to worry about others.

But I want to fix it.

And I can’t.


So I thought today, What can I do for my friends who are hurting, who are tired, who are grieving?

Here are words from Winnie….that’s right the Pooh…silly, willy, nilly old bear…. Pooh was stuck in Rabbits’ hole. He was stuck so tight he couldn’t move, even sigh.

While he was waiting to get unstuck he asked “Is there anyone who can sit with me and read a story or offer a word of comfort to a bear wedged in great tightness?”

Don’t fix it, don’t change it because you can’t….just sit with me and keep me company.

That’s all we can do isn’t it?

To all my bears wedged in great tightness tonight, we are thinking of you…offering a story, words of comfort…we’ll sit beside you until you become unstuck….

Heck we’ll even sit beside you after that.

6 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Fence”

  1. The friends who helped me through the hardest times with Max, were that exact kind…the ones who sat with me until we got unstuck. So perfectly said, Heather. To good health…to all of our kids!


  2. This is so timely and spot-on. I've been advocating “creative help” ever since my diagnosis when we were flooded with a lot of wonderful help, but also a lot of people wanting me to tell them how to help. When you're knee deep in your own crap, you can hardly think creatively to come up with stuff for people to do so that they feel better about your crap. Yes, it's somewhat cynical, but the friends who love me find ways to be present without my having to manage it. And sitting with me is the first way–acknowledging the beast, and not being afraid to be around. Great post, Heather.


  3. Heather, Sue just alerted me to this post. Sorry I hadn't seen it- it's amazing how much there is to do when a parent dies. But heck, I haven't been able to concentrate anyway. Heather, I appreciate what you said- I think of the many times we have wrung our hands about what to do for you and Bart, and just ended up doing nothing. When I had my meltdown the day after my dad died, I thought, Man! We have the best damn friends and family in the WORLD, but look at us: A is in NY auditioning, S is working in the mtns, our gang/my mens' group is half a continent away. _Why are we so separated?!_ No blame, mind you, just a What is wrong with this picture?! kind of thing. I've learned a lot in the past week or so. One thing is that we're a culture of fixers- we want to fix the problem for our friends. And of course, we can't. The very best thing of all is just being with who you love. No words. Because words mean almost nothing, at least to me, in the face of so powerful an event. So I concentrated on the sound of my friends' voices, the beautiful music I heard there. I loved feeling the physical vibrations (coming from their dear physical selves) against my skin. It was comforting. I now understand what Rumi meant when he said (paraphrase), “God doesn't hear our words when we pray, just the feeling behind them.” There were some words that I do remember- R, my sailing buddy, said “Tie yourself to the mast.” That made sense to me. The hospice nurse said “Your family has come to represent the epitome of love to our staff.” Won't forget that. But that hospice nurse that came to our house at 4:00 a.m. and sat and cried and laughed with us the hour or more until the undertakers came, now THAT lady was an ANGEL! The question remains- what can we do for our friends who are hurting fifty, a thousand miles away? I do not know, sweetest heart. You and the gang sent a box full of love that we opened just today. I say that went a long way. I also say To HELL with our diet! Heather, I made some pledges to you about a year ago. They involved coming to your house once a month for whatever need you might have. Even though our lives have been off balance for a couple of years, I carry a weight that I have not fulfilled those pledges. Please know that I will not pay the slightest bit of attention to the soothing words I expect you to say about that. What would really do my heart good is to give you/get from you a huge hug, pain partners, and talk about how we might become more a part of each others' lives. In some significant ways, there is a new person behind your eyes, and I want to become reacquainted with her. I love, admire and respect you, Heather, and I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks.


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