I agree with Robert Ingersoll, “we rise by lifting others.” Yet, we must also experience the flip-side. As the lifter, it is not so easy to become the one being lifted. Pictures flashed through my mind like a slide-show. The cancer patients who were stuck in the hospital at Christmas … seeing their faces light up when we showed up with stockings. We walked away better than when we went in. We do indeed rise by lifting others.
I thought of the caregivers who come into our memory cafes tired and down-trodden … and leave with a renewed sense of hope. I walk away better than when I went in. I do indeed rise by lifting others.
I lift them because it is right and healing and beautiful. You don’t have to be perfect to help others. All you have to do is care enough to make a difference. I know this. Then why does it feel so odd to be on the flip-side? It was not until my dad’s third hospitalization (within weeks) that I realized I needed to let what had gone around come back around, and then some. I got bold. I even reached out to let others know I welcomed the “boomerang blessings” coming our way. You see, one day someone is going to hug you so tight that all of your broken pieces will stick back together. That is how it felt for me being the receiver instead of the giver. It felt good, and right, and beautiful, all at once.
People were delivering lunch and dinner garnished with love and hugs. People I’ve never met were praying because people who knew me were asking them to. People literally stepped into my shoes so I could step away. People who took part in helping Team Martina teammates bless cancer patients were giving me the flip-side. The medical team caring for my dad was soothing my heart – and mirroring a healing spirit infused in stockings and songs. They boldly reminded me it was my turn. They walked away better than when they came in.
The caregivers who had gained stamina and hope at the memory cafes gave it back to me. They sat with my dad while I went home to swim or nap or just be. They visited my mom at the nursing home and saved me from the impossibility of being two places at once. They walked away better than when they came in. They lifted me because I had lifted them. It felt good, and right, and beautiful.
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. Caregiving marathons can rob the strongest of what it takes to finish the race. I am still recovering from the back to back to back crises. Thankfully, my stamina is building and my hope beams more than yesterday. It is right and healing and beautiful to engage the flip-side. I need to make a habit of this. In fact, if we are to rise in lifting others, receiving is necessary medicine for the core of giving. One cannot exist without the other. What goes around comes around and then some. Let the boomerang blessings flow. I believe, that is exactly the way God intended it.