Friday, January 14, 2011

Feeling Useless

My first thoughts this morning were of my friend and colleague, Katie. I have known Katie for several years and just over two years ago I joined the real estate office she was already with.

Everyone likes Katie. You never know what she's going to say, often a little off-color but always funny. Her humor is at no one's expense except maybe her own.

Those of us who work with Katie know that her family has been going through some rough times. Her husband lost a big job a few years ago after 30+ years with the same company. Despite efforts to find another job, in this economy it's been a struggle. He's gotten close a few times but each time the opportunity vanished.

In the meantime, Katie's real estate business saw a big dip like the rest of us. She's a great realtor and plugs along regardless. I'm happy to say that 2010 was probably her best year in a few and Gary has been doing some consulting work so it seemed things were looking up for them.

Two nights ago Katie got a call from California telling her that Gary collapsed and died. He was there on business, couldn't get a flight home due to weather and had been on the golf course when it happened.

I got a call early yesterday morning from another friend on vacation in Florida. The minute I heard Janice's voice I knew something was seriously wrong. When she told me that Katie's husband had died suddenly, I was stunned. We talked a few more minutes but soon had nothing more to say. What could I do? How could I help? I felt totally useless.

All through the day Katie and her two sons were on my mind. I went to her Facebook page and saw that she had posted a message saying she had lost her best friend in the whole world. Friends and family all over posted condolences and offers of support and help, and I added my message. Useless as it seemed.

Although I wasn't surprised to see all the postings, it still amazes me that we are all using Facebook to reach out to each other in good times and bad. I'm not one who believes this means we have lost personal touch, at least not within my generation. In the coming days and weeks I'm sure many of those people will be reaching out to her physically and personally. But I still felt powerless and useless.

This morning as soon as I woke I thought of Katie. As I lay there listening to my own husband still breathing the soft sound of sleep, my eyes filled with tears. I slid my foot back to touch him. I thought about what it would be like if he wasn't there for that touch.

Then I got up, came downstairs, started the coffee and began pulling things out of my kitchen cabinets. Before Paul got up I had a batch of brownies and a cake in the oven. After an appointment this morning I'm going to stop by the supermarket and get the makings for a big pan of chili and bring it all to Katie's family.

Suddenly I don't feel quite so useless.

Postscript: Katie was really pleased when I showed up with my care package. And it made me feel good, too. Such a simple thing to do, to feed someone. My mother called and asked what I was doing. I told her and she said “That’s what we used to do before we got so uppity.” I thought that was very poignant somehow.


Katherine said...

I know that feeling. When someone has had such a terrible loss, I feel there is nothing I can say or do that really makes a difference. But a meal always helps. My condolences to the family.

~Kristen~ said...

I am so sorry for your friends loss. :(

I know we can all feel that way when tragedy strikes a loved one. But for her to just be able to feel the love and comfort from her friends and loved ones is often just what is needed.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I am so sorry for her loss and I will keep her in my prayers. I am sure she appreciated you coming over. Reading blogs from so many woman who lose their children they say the most important thing is to have people come over, even just to sit with them and hold their hand while they cry. I'm glad you went over. I have to say I got tears in my eyes when you talked about your husband and said "I thought about what it would be like if he wasn't there for that touch." I have been arguing with my husband and this made me realize how petty it is to argue, I love him so much and should just hang with him because life is too short.

Pam said...

What a sad story. I know exactly how you feel as I've been through something similar recently. These unexpected deaths really do make you stop and think about how fragile life is.

"Cottage By The Sea" said...

I once asked a friend who lost her husband (a couple of years before I met her), what she remembered as being the most helpful thing anyone did for her during that time. She said that, people who just showed up with food or came to help without being asked was the best. She noted that it is very hard to make decisions or ask for help at a time like that and when someone just steps in and opens your cupboards up and figures it all out themselves instead of asking you is very helpful. Sounds like what you did was the perfect act of kindness. Sometimes I think that it helps me when I do an act of kindness, as much as it helps the person for whom I do it. Blessings, Tia


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