Stuff to Be Kind
Last week my husband sponsored a kiddush reception for all our friends and relatives at our synagogue on Shabbos. The reception was a come and go type of event and the purpose was to give thanks to everyone – our entire community, friends, relatives and acquaintance –for their help to our family and especially me during my recuperation from several foot surgeries the past 9 months. Now that I’m doing much better and walking, we wanted to give public thanks to Hashem as well. Many friends showed up and it felt good to have a tangible way for closure to an period in our lives that was challenging. During those months, I lost the ability to walk and get around. But I also discovered a lot of love and kindness around me.
One of the things my husband said during his short two-minute blurb or speech was that people came through for me in our community in amazing ways. And “just when Miriam was about to lose it, someone always came through by visiting, cheering her up or cooking a meal…” I laughed at his wording; did I really “almost lose it?” He was trying to convey how much everyone really helped out and in his effort to do so, he may have exaggerated a bit about my situation. But did he exaggerate? I thought about it for a minute.
No, he did not exaggerate.
Truth is, when I thought about it, I realized that yes, I did almost “lose it” many times. I recall the time I had a serious meltdown on my way to the bathroom when it took me ten minutes to get there and everything was hurting me. I began to cry hysterically and my thoughts revolved around things like “I’m dying, they’re not telling me, they’re keeping it a secret from me, but I’m really seriously dying…”
Shortly afterward, a friend texted me “hey, Miriam can I bring you an Ice-Blended from the Coffee Bean?” A light in the darkness is how I viewed the text and I answered “Yeah, I’d love that…”
Things like that happened throughout the time of my ups and downs and complications. There was the friend from NYC who was visiting her own children in LA where I live, and she came by to visit, bringing me needlepoint projects to do. She also brought CD’s of classical music spanning composers from Bach all the way to Rachmaninoff. Listening to that music over the next few weeks made me feel like I was back in music school, and took my mind off my pains and complaints.
ACTS OF KINDNESS
Other friends cooked for us huge gourmet meals (did I mention my husband and I are empty-nesters and we are only TWO people?), and still others went shopping for me. I received constant texts from friends to the tune of “Miriam, I’m at Costco – what do you need?” or “I”m at Target, can I get you something?” or “I’m going to the market tomorrow, call in an order and I’ll pick it up for you..”
One friend came by and played her cello for me, and another friend sent me a bunch of you-tube clips of Brahms symphonies and sonatas so I could divert my mind to something outside my own pains. Just to cheer me up.
My daughters-in-law ran errands for me, and brought the kids over to visit and watch videos together with me. One DIL brought me a book of crossword puzzles and some friends sent balloons and flowers and cards. On Shabbos afternoon, friends and neighbors came by to keep me company, and while I had my leg raised on 8 or 9 pillows, these friends shmoozed, laughed, listened and cared. It was truly magical.
When I needed to go to the doctor, and my husband was at work and couldn’t drive me, a friend or relative would come by and give me a ride. Our community has an organization called Bikur Cholim which provided drivers for me when I needed a lift.
What did all this teach me? The power of love. The power of giving. The importance of visiting someone who is not well. The creativity that one can use when trying to help someone else. Whereas some people are cookers, others may be drivers, and yet others may be visitors. Some just wrote emails or texts and others called to check in. There’s no one way to do a kindness. It’s all good.
Thankfully, now I’m better and I am on the other side of fence, helping others when I can. I’m able to drive, walk, cook and visit others. I feel so blessed to have reached this point. But I will never forget the feeling of helplessness of needing, because that feeling of “losing it” is the rock bottom that made me appreciate the kindness even more so.
While I was in bed, I did some composing, and one of the songs I wrote is featured at the beginning of this post. I hope you enjoy it. It’s called:
“Stuff to Be Kind” – lyrics composed by yours truly
Vocals by Arthur Kaufman; and Music by Jana Stanfield (“If I were Brave”)