What I’m learning here, amongst the thousands of lessons the universe is piling on top of me, is an appreciation for people. I’m learning to have hope for humankind. I’m also realizing that if you ask for help, you will receive it. And I now trust that if people offer it, they are sincere and want to help.
My mom makes friends. That’s what she does, she’s a professional maker of friends, with everyone and anyone. No judgement. She sits on a plane and is exchanging phone numbers with people in her row by the end of the flight. You go with her to the theater, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, and by the time you return she’s made friends with the people sitting in her row. She asks a lot of questions. She truly wants to get to know you, and people are drawn to that quality. I never understood it growing up. I was shy and introverted and socially awkward. But as I get older, I try to embody this quality. My mom’s ability to make friends has resulted in a huge community of people. In this difficult time, these people have not only surrounded her, they’ve surrounded all of us, and I am so grateful.
My mom has two cousins who I am incredibly lucky to have as mentors in my life. They are two of the most intelligent, strong and interesting women that I know. They have both reached out and have spent time on the phone with me, talking through everything. The conversations I’m having with them now, as an adult, are enlightening and empowering, and it’s in all of this that I have the opportunity to feel closer to them. And besides the fact that I have so much respect for both of them and the way they’ve lived their lives and raised their kids, the fact that they know my mom so well, makes me see her in a different light as well. One of them looked to her as a mentor. She talked to my mom through every difficult parenting milestone she faced. She wanted to emulate my mom and her parenting style. And now as a parent, I want to emulate her parenting style as well. She was always so open and respectful of our ideas and opinions. Even when she didn’t fully understand our ideas, she let us explore them.
When you’re a kid, you don’t see your parents the way you do when you start to understand their lives and the choices they were faced with. My mom had to deal with a lot while we were growing up. There was a lot of change and transition, being away from her family, money ups and downs, business ownership, other shenanigans my dad put her through. And through all of it, my mom had hope and optimism, she made friends and she maintained her composure. Only a few people know the full breadth of the things my mom had to deal with in her life, and these two women know and continue to remind me of her strength.
Other people in my mom’s circle have reached out as well. I’ve talked on the phone with old family friends, I’ve received emails and texts from people my mom met when she moved back to Pennsylvania, and also, old friends of mine and parents of friends of mine and new friends of mine, they are all reaching out. The social circle is so large that it’s hard to keep up with. And what I realize in all of this, is that community and family and people give me hope. I have always felt like good people are few and far between. That’s not true. We are the majority. People who care about other people have the power to change something horrible into something inspiring.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out. Who has dropped a note, who has called, who has brought food, who has talked me through hospital stays, who has given me spiritual advice, who has let me cry, who has walked in my shoes, who has been honest and open and loving.
I want my mom to know what she’s built and how by building this community she was protecting us. She was making it possible for us to navigate this moment.
She is giving us hope.