“When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words ― Lessons Learned in Life
Presence is enough and your presence is always enough.
This lesson continues to be reinforced for me, now more than ever as my family and I continue care giving for our Mom. I experience presence quite often and just this past weekend, one moment stands out and yet again, I understood that presence, yours and mine is always enough.
Mom and I were going about our usual Sunday. Sunday is the day we have to ourselves and anyone else in the family that wants to share the day with us. The two lovely ladies that take care of Mom all week long have the day off and Sunday is ours. It is actually a treat, a chance to regroup and to be just us outside of anyone else.
Nothing was going on outside of the ordinary although we never really know how the day will transpire and my approach is to have no agenda and welcome whatever comes. Some days are relaxing and uneventful. Other days, are trying, emotional, and can be very long and extremely quiet. It is not that comfortable, we don’t need to say anything quiet but a restless, sad, struggling sort of quiet where Mom is challenged by words that just won’t come out so it makes her withdraw and go within. It’s difficult to watch sometimes and when I find it more heartbreaking than usual I still have to find a way to be okay with everything that this disease brings.
Our day was moving along very pleasant on Sunday for most of the afternoon. Then out of nowhere, Mom’s mood changed and she became emotional and began to cry. There we were with Mom upset and having a hard time getting her words out and then there’s me feeling helpless, instantly wanting to take all of this away from her. It’s a cycle that changes frequently with no rhyme or reason or any warning as to what and when anything might occur.
When Mom’s mood changes so abruptly, there is little I can do other than to just be present. Hence, in this case, my presence was enough. In the moment, all that is necessary becomes to do nothing but stay calm, stay quiet and leave Mom to her emotions. She needs to feel whatever she is feeling. Is this easy? Absolutely not! As I’m sure you will agree when anyone you love is hurting, confused, lost, frightened, in pain, etc is there ever a time when you don’t or wouldn’t want to take that pain away from them? I feel that way about most people but if you are in my inner circle and the closest to me, it takes on a completely different meaning and the love I feel inside just doesn’t want to see anyone suffer in any way and I want to just do whatever I can to make it stop.
On Sunday, Mom had a pretty profound moment of clarity. In the midst of her crying and emotion, she was able to tell me that she’s so tired of all this. My first reaction was, she’s in there, she’s still the same Eileen that she’s always been. She knows. She knows what is happening to her, she can’t stand it and there’s nothing she can do about it. So very hard to hear and as the helplessness rises inside of me, I have to leave her with her emotions and just be with her.
Presence. In that very moment, my presence was enough and so is your presence for anyone you know that may be hurting. Sometimes it’s the silence that is most comforting. In Mom’s case, I was able to sit with her, hold her hand, give her a hug and even cry with her. As sad as I know you can visualize this being, it was also a moment between mother and daughter that has always been there for us and still is; only this time it was me to offer comfort and not the other way around.
Presence… is more than enough and sometimes it is the only thing that will make a difference.
I share this with you today because so many times all of us struggle and have felt that awkward moment of not knowing what to say or do or even whether to acknowledge another’s pain or maybe stay away and not show up. Then time intervenes and we hesitate, procrastinate and then feel like too much time has gone by so we end up feeling worse than we did to begin with. Grief and everything that comes with it is hard. It is especially uncomfortable and very few of us know what to do in the moment and when that happens we find ourselves avoiding and staying away.
So again dear friend, presence is enough and more importantly, your presence is enough.
Just sitting by someone’s side, or going for a walk, or being the voice on the other end of the phone, or the driver of the car that drives nowhere in particular but drives anyway offering a change of scenery and some company. Or how about, even more simply, a glance, a squeeze of the hand, a touch of the arm…. And if welcome, a hug. So many gestures will speak volumes and can offer so much.
In my case this past Sunday, did I really do anything for my Mom? I choose to think that I did, so, yes I did help my Mom. In that moment when she was crystal clear about what she was feeling and just as emotional for saying it, I’d like to think that I offered her a soft place to fall, that my presence helped to make her feel better; that I was enough to comfort her and express all the love that I have in my heart for her.
And when Mom’s feelings moved along and she was settled in bed for the night, then it was my turn to acknowledge the emotions that I was feeling from the day. And, my emotions were many and filled with many tears. So it became my turn to move past what I was feeling and there I was Sunday night texting my brothers, telling them I was having a moment and that I can’t stand this disease. And, in the next sentence also saying that I wish this was all over for Mom, not because anyone of us want to see her gone, but because it feels compassionate, kind, loving and gracious to see her leave this world with dignity and knowing what this disease can still do to her, and not wanting her to have to go through it.
And the presence that I was able to give my Mom, my brothers gave to me… that soft place to fall…
Presence… it speaks volume… Your presence is always enough….