Thursday, February 6, 2014

Learning to accept help

I have always been a stubborn person. My parents tell a story about how, when I was maybe a year old, they were busy with a task and couldn't pay much attention to me. Apparently, they leaned over my crib and told me they would be with me very soon, something a baby might not have the capacity to understand. I started to cry as soon as they got to work, because I wanted their attention. They completed their task as quickly as possible then came over to me. I had stopped crying. And I would not look at them. I turned my face away no matter how sweetly they cooed. It is my first recorded sulk and moment of stubbornness.

I am still a stubborn person, though now I try to temper it with thoughtful actions and analysis; I'd like to think I am a bit more understanding of the world and its distractions than I was at a year old. But there are some things that are very hard for me to do, places where I get my back up. Accepting help is one of them. I want to solve my own problems and create my own solutions.

The last three weeks and the coming months are a lesson in learning to accept help. Kevin is learning this because his body requires it; I am learning it because, if I am to help him, I need to accept help myself.

And help is coming out of the woodwork. I am amazed, overwhelmed, astonished and honored by how many people have offered to help. Kevin's kids all came to visit. Friends are flying in from around the country to help him once he comes home and to make sure I have support. Work friends are helping with yard work. Neighbors make sure the papers get picked up and bring me food. We are being cooked for, our home is being cleaned and we are constantly, constantly being reminded that this help is without obligation, it is given freely because we need it.

I wish we didn't need it...

In some ways all of this help makes me feel a little useless, but then I remember that right now? doing the dishes is less important that being with him. That shoveling the walk takes time away from talking with doctors and being his advocate. And that accepting help allows all of these people who love us an opportunity to be involved. To support, to fight back at illness. To help.

I am reminding myself over and over that right now, accepting help only makes sense. I need more help now than I ever have before, except maybe when I was that stubborn baby. I remind myself that help freely offered is a gift to both the one who receives and the one who gives. I remind myself, over and over and over again, the we all get by with a little help from our friends.

This isn't an easy lesson for me to learn. I will surely make some unkind mistakes or, at best, fail to ask for what we need. But I'm trying.

Thank you all. Thank you for your good thoughts, for your help, be it a prayer, a hope, a dish washed, an offer of a massage, a pot of soup, a ride to the airport... whatever it may be, please know that I appreciate it, even if right now I may not be effusive in my gratitude. Thank you for helping me help him.

(c)2014 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. Laura, your wisdom and self awareness shine bright. It is a hard thing to accept help offered. You are dancing through this with as big a smile as you can muster. Yes, toes will be stepped on. That's always the case as two people learn to dance with each other. Hugs to you both.

  2. Dear Laura,
    Thank you for sharing this. I don't comment on your posts but I do read them. I am a Laura lurker. Like you, I couldn't accept help until recently. Now, I see and feel the tremendous love that surrounds me and that I can be a part of giving and receiving. I am hoping that this connection continues and that all the people who are doing things for you and Kevin feel deeply connected to one another. Peace, Regi

  3. Laura you are doing all the right things for Kevin and yourself. Right may not be comfortable, easy or without despair. We often need help when we want what is right for our loved ones. Because when doing the right things get real tough, your faithful help will be right with you both. We are still thinking of you both with our hearts full of love. And that is all Right!


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