I have been fortunate in life and have yet to experience a severe personal tragedy. But I know many people who have, and I've always struggled with how to help, sometimes even with how to engage at all. After reading Option B, I was inspired to do more.
My daughter's teacher's young child was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. While I know she'd much rather spend the year dedicating all of her time to her own daughter, she has been the MOST devoted, inspiring, and loving teacher to mine. I would do anything for her and her family.
Recently, her daughter spiked a high fever and was admitted to the hospital. Having a sick child is upsetting for most families, but for this family it's terrifying.
In the past I would have felt really sad and scared for them and probably would have sent a note to tell her that my thoughts were with them. I would have wanted to do so much more but wouldn't have felt it my place to "show up."
I immediately recalled the story in Option B of Dan, whose friend spent an hour in the hospital lobby in case he wanted a hug while he was upstairs with his son, who was battling a serious illness. The friend just showed up. That story stopped me in my tracks.
I went to some stores and picked up toys, books, and a gigantic stuffed animal. Then I emailed my daughter’s teacher and said, "I'm coming to the hospital with a package for your daughter. I don't want to invade your privacy or hers. If you don't feel like coming down I'll leave it at the front desk. No pressure."
I got an email back shortly after, asking us to please come up—they needed the distraction and were delighted to have a visitor. Okay! The daughter loved opening her presents and her mom was so touched and relieved that someone had taken the time to visit. She kept mouthing, "Thank you, thank you." And I got to see first hand a little bit of the magic that is this amazing little girl. Since then I've been checking in daily and we've been in constant contact. She has thanked me many times for showing up for her family.
I never would have thought to do anything like that if I hadn't read Option B. As someone who isn't super close with the family, I wouldn't have thought it my place. Now I feel like forever moving forward I will be more capable of "showing up" for those who need me.