I spoke into the phone all of the important details as fast as I could get them out. I knew if I paused, the sobs would take over and I could no longer speak. My friend on the other end of the line had never experienced what I was experiencing. She could only imagine everything I was truly feeling in that moment. As expected, as soon as I spoke the last of what I needed to say, the crying started. My friend didn’t know what to say. She sat silently as I sobbed for several minutes. Neither of us spoke and the silence spoke volumes. Several years later, these five minutes of silence still carry extraordinary meaning to me.
Her silence told me she wasn’t going to jump on my bandwagon and be upset with me, only adding fuel to my fire. She wasn’t going to offer a frivolous explanation to discount my feelings. She was not going to insist that I find the silver lining or look for the best. Those conversations would all be part of the healing, but not yet. First she sat in the middle of the hurt with me, and I knew I wasn’t alone.
When you know someone needs you and you're not sure what to do, just show up. Make the call. Just reach out and tell them you’re thinking about them. Asking “what can I do” can feel like a job you’ve just given them. Don’t assign them the job of finding something helpful for you to do. If you see something you think would be helpful, you can just do it. Because really, when is a call to say "I love you" or bringing coffee or taking dinner or watching kids for someone ever going to not be helpful? Will it be awkward? Maybe. It may have been awkward for my friend who sat in silence with me, but I can promise it wasn’t awkward for me. Even given as much time that has passed, it is still one of my favorite memories. If you want your relationships to grow, reach out, show up, do awkward.