All We Need to Do Is Just Be There


A couple of days ago, I got one of those early morning calls. It was my mother. She only said a few words: “I don’t feel good”. And I could tell that something bad had happened. She’d fallen in the kitchen. I immediately got dressed and went to her house.

When I saw her, I felt so overwhelmed by how frail she looked. My father was sitting by her side … hunched over and very quiet (a rarity). I felt the tears on my face as I attempted in a shaky voice to ask what’d happened.

She looked at me with kind and motherly strength: “Don’t be upset; I’m okay. It’s not that bad. It could’ve been worse”. This was coming from a woman who’s barely visible in bed and could hardly move without sharp shooting pain.

I felt helpless. There isn’t really much you can do when someone is recovering from physical trauma, other than get help if needed, and let the body heal ever so slowly.

Life had thrown me a curveball that jolted me out of my daily routine. Once again, I was reminded that control is an illusion, and plans are only a suggestion that may, or may not, come to fruition.

Throughout the day, I kept hovering around asking if my mother needed anything. I cleaned up in the kitchen, helped her move in and out of bed, but mostly I just sat there.

And that’s all I needed to do: Just be there. Being there is all that’s expected from us when our loved ones are dealing with life’s setbacks. We don’t need special powers or super skills. All we need is to physically, mentally, and emotionally be with them in their time of need.

No preparation is required. We don’t need a to-do list, or comprehensive plan to be there. We just need to show up and stay as long as we’re needed.

For two days I didn’t get to clear my to-do list. I didn’t work on projects, or exercise, or write, or do anything else. And all was okay. Being there for my family may not have been a planned choice. But it turned out to be the most rewarding.

We did small things that ended up making a big difference. My partner and I lowered my mother’s bed, a laborious but mundane task. To my mother, it meant the world. And we felt so good that we made her life a little easier.

Sharing hard times with family may not be something we want to post on Facebook or Instagram. It’s not pretty for sure, and it can be depressing. But it’s definitely rewarding and meaningful on a much deeper level of connection.

And the people we help end up helping us right back. I felt incredibly motivated and inspired by the unbroken human spirit. Even in moments of weakness, my mother’s indomitable spirit ordered me to move out of the way and let her do her thing.

It’s more important now than ever to remind ourselves of one of life’s most essential priorities: To just be there.

We’re most needed right at home with the people we share our lives with: Parents, grandparents, partners and spouses, brothers and sisters, children, and grandchildren.

Being there for each other is a universal expression of our oneness with life. We show up and be, regardless of abilities, limitations, age, education, culture, language, or social standing.

The most valuable insight I can leave you with is:

You have within you this amazing ability to make the biggest difference in the world—right where you are.

Be there for your family, for your friends, for your community. Our human bond is reinforced with every challenge, every bruise, every ailment or broken limb. We rise to the challenge and lift each other up, by simply being there.