Happy First Day of Fall! In my eyes, it doesn't get much better than this time of the year: the warm sunlight of summer still hanging on and the crisp, refreshing air coming in. I love the changing leaves and the hot apple cider vendors popping up in my neighborhood. Near my parents' home is the Jericho Cider Mill - a highly anticipated, seasonal farm stand with the unrivaled slogan: "Live HappLey AppLey." I smile seeing the pumpkins and decorations and the kids excitedly skipping to their first weeks of school. I'm also partial to fall fashions, the lack of humidity, and of course the start of school. It's comforting to settle into a routine and try my hand at new classes. Perhaps most of all, though, I love the coziness that autumn entails. It means the start of a season filled with family time, holidays, delicious food, and friends. This year, it also means the arrival of Kate! So...what's your preferred season and why?
On the subject of friends and family, I thought I'd share a New York Times article that Betsy passed along yesterday. It's called "Coping with Crises Close to Someone Else's Heart " and I think it's a good reminder to all of us - healthy or chronically ill -to offer our help in times of need and to really follow through. Of course, everyone responds to pain and trauma differently and sometimes, in the midst of great hardship, we might see things in our friends or family that may surprise us. It may even hurt us. Professor of pediatrics Dr. Barbara M. Soukes reminds us, "when you're confronted by someone else's horror, there's a sense that it's close to home...it'll change from person to person...the only certainty is that traumatic events change relationships outside the family as well as in it." How we respond in times of need can make our relationships infinitely stronger going forward, but if the ball is dropped on one end it can often be hard to overcome.
Professor of psychology Dr. Jackson Rainer reminds us that many people offer what he refers to as "pseudo-care, asking vaguely if there’s anything they can do but never following up." Just as we expect a certain level of respect, empathy, and a sense that the people who love us "have our back", we all need to take stock of how we offer it in return. Dr. Rainer suggests taking concrete measures to help a friend in need. He says, "There are any number of tasks to be done, and they’re as personal as your thumbprint...If you really want to help a family in crisis, offer to do something specific: drive the carpool, weed the garden, bring a meal, do the laundry, go for a walk."
The article hit home with me for many reasons and probably mainly because of my lifelong struggle with friendships (explained most in depth in this May post ). So often I thought I'd found a friend to invest everything in and, when my disease was at its worst, many just headed for the hills. This article reminds me that this tendency can be in human nature - it is fear of the unknown, fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, and fear of being overwhelmed by another's struggle. It hurts less when we come to understand what's really going on inside the other person. Today, with a life filled to the brim with love and support and friendships I've prayed for, the small disappointments seem much easier to ignore. But let's remember there are many ways to really "be there" for the people we love and, as long as we're there, there's no wrong way to love.