You can say a lot of things about my brother in law Joe. He makes a mean pot of homemade chili. As evidenced by my son Kyle’s peals of laughter, he does a spot on impression of King Kong in the inflatable wrestling ring. He also makes the funniest tooth fairy I’ve ever seen. But Joe was blessed in another way, too, that may be evidenced only by those who have found themselves really in need of a friend. Joe understands the importance of showing up.
You probably have a friend like Joe. At least, I hope you do. If you had surgery and needed someone to drive you home, he’d be the one in the waiting room who would eventually bring the car around, drive you home, help you up the steps, fluff up your pillows, and make sure you were OK before he went home. Of all the things I can say about Joe, the biggest compliment I can pay him is that I know if I ever really needed him, he would be there for me. And he would probably be the last to leave. I can’t really think of a major event that has occurred in my life since I have known Joe where he hasn’t been there. I know that I can always count on him and that is a rare quality these days. Thanks, Joe!
I am so fortunate to have many great friends and a wonderful family. I think of all of the times people have shown up for me. I remember when my dad was really sick and all of the friends and family who spent countless hours with us at the hospital over seven months. It wasn’t so much that they kept us entertained. They didn’t have to always know exactly the right thing to say. They didn’t have to say anything. It just meant so much that they were there, just sitting in the same room, watching TV with us to give us something else to think to talk about for a few minutes. It was a welcome distraction. Sometimes just a kind look or a warm hand on your shoulder can make all the difference to remind you that you aren’t alone.
As I look back on my life so far I see mental snapshots of both good times and bad. Life is a series of days punctuated by life-altering events, happy and sad, but all meaningful: graduations, weddings, baby showers, housewarmings, birthday parties, illnesses, funerals, farewell parties, and everything in between. The older I get the more I understand the importance of being at as many of these events as possible for those I care about. Sometimes we have other obligations and we can’t attend every event that we’d like. People understand that.
But, I’d like to challenge you to make an effort to be there when you can. Your presence probably means more to people than you realize. You may think it doesn’t matter that you’re not there but it does. You may think they don’t notice that you’re not there but they do. They might say its fine that you miss it but I bet they’d like it better if you were there with them. After all, isn’t life about sharing important moments with those you love?
I encourage you to look for opportunities to show up for others. It isn’t so much about keeping score or paying people back. If you attend their event, they don’t “owe you”. It’s more about paying it forward. Think about those who have shown up for you. What examples can you share when someone was there for you when you needed them?