Someone that I care deeply about might be ill.
I won't write about the situation, for their privacy reasons. But I will say that at times like these, little favors mean the world, and little refusals are also magnified.
I found out the bad news earlier this week. Dan sent me emails and SMS's throughout the day, to check how I was doing. Not a big deal, just a few minutes here and there. Rina had a break-in at her house that morning, but when she heard the news, she sent me a long email expressing her sympathy. Let me know if there is anything I can do, they say.
During the darkest minutes on Tuesday night, when I despaired over whether there was any course of action, I remembered these acts of friendship. They carried me through.
I've learned previously the power of small favors during crises, but it has been a while since I felt it so strongly. In my life, the act of kindness that I am perhaps most grateful for happened three years ago. After a desperate night in the emergency room with one of my relatives, the health insurance representative decided to reject the case so that their company would not have to pay. The ER doctor stayed 45 minutes past his shift to advocate on our behalf. He pulled me aside and advised me how to persuade the insurance company, and our fallback alternatives should that fail.
I would walk through fire for that doctor. Later we brought him a large gift basket of chocolates to the ER, and wrote a glowing letter to put into his file, but that is nothing compared to the favor he did for us.
There are so many I am grateful to -- friends and coworkers and doctors -- who are kind and empathic and go out of their way. Thank you to Alipé who looked up a list of doctors in the region for me. I will remember it.
It works the other way too. Perhaps you're another relative, a distant one. You don't want to deal with the problem because it's so much trouble, and so frightening. So you minimize the situation. You say it's not so bad, not a big deal. You make it clear that you're not going to help. You change the subject. You make a joke and try to laugh it off.
Perhaps I chalk the first time up to denial, and the second time to discomfort, but after that there are no more excuses.
I understand. It is human to protect yourself by not getting involved. I still appreciate all the errands and help you gave me throughout my life, and I will treat you respectfully. But know that I will never completely trust you again, because nothing will wash away this memory, that you couldn't be counted on when it mattered the very most.