A friend called me from New York yesterday to tell me what she was going through. She’s in her eighties, her husband is five years older than she is, and he fell a few days ago. He really hurt himself and normally she would have taken him to the hospital. But nothing is normal any more. Because of the Coronavirus, there was no room for him in the hospital.
My friend wasn’t complaining. In all the years I’ve known her, no matter what was going on, she never played the victim card. Yesterday was no exception. She just needed to talk things out because she was in a tough spot. The doctor said she needed to take her husband to Urgent Care but she didn’t know how to get him there. He weighed a lot more than she did, it would be difficult to get him into a taxi since he couldn’t walk and she didn’t know any caregivers who were willing to help transport him during the pandemic. She and I talked for a while and when we had exhausted her options, we both went silent. She had a hard road ahead of her and I felt helpless. I wanted to do something, anything to help her, so I sang her a song.
Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend.
I can carry a tune but I’m no opera singer. As I listened to my voice going in and out of pitch, a little raspy and a little off key, I felt like crying. I had come up with something that could raise my friend’s spirits. It was the least I could do and when I was through, she was speechless. I heard her voice falter a little bit when she thanked me and said good-bye. I was so glad I had attempted something I wasn’t all that good at.
If I had been a trained singer, it wouldn’t been a stretch to give my little offering. I would have felt secure that I was good at it. But because my singing voice left a lot to be desired, that made it an act of courage. I had swallowed my pride and done what I could with no thought about whether I was good or bad. For someone with my athletic background who had spent my childhood and my teenage years fighting to be the best, to be better than everyone else, and to be accepted as a professional in my field, it was a major accomplishment to lift up my voice, to forget about good or bad and sing from my heart. I love my friend that much.
When I was a kid and my mother drove me forty miles back and forth to Boston so I could take ballet classes four days a week, it was tedious for her. So I learned all the show tunes and I sang to her in the car. When I saw her expression change and her mood get lighter, I knew she was feeling better and I kept on doing it.
When it seems like there’s nothing you can do, when you can’t physically be there, you can paint a picture, sing a song or do a little dance online. You’ll be surprised at how important it is, both to a friend and for yourself. It removes the sense of helplessness and heaviness and lightens the mood. It shows a friend how much you care. It lifts you up to know that even your humblest offering can be a balm to someone’s heart and make them feel loved.
How do your support your friends during this challenging time? How do you support yourself?