Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Perfect sentiments

This post from Cathy Siepp is so indicative of a lot of my personal experience that I'm just going to post the whole thing. Comments after...

I'm afraid I had a little melt-down yesterday when I discovered that a friend had delivered not only the brisket she said she would, but also a giant pot of soup, which she'd made Maia transfer to one of my pots and put downstairs in my dad's fridge while I was lying down. So this, of course, meant a lot more work for everyone around here: Getting poor Emmanuelle to wash out the pot (which I could no longer use until it was cleaned), and divide the soup into small freezable containers, while I sat there and wondered why-why-why?

This friend is not a dolt, but one who I'd complained to many times about other people who bring stuff that won't fit in my fridge. And she was sympathetic. But I guess she figured it didn't apply to her.

Why don't they just listen?

Besides which, there's something kind of insulting about the expectation that I should eat the same giant pot of whatever all week, like dog chow, and be grateful. I guess people want the credit for cooking, if they like to cook, but they don't want to really bother cleaning or dividing or really making any effort to make it easier for the recipient.

It actually looked like pretty good soup too, otherwise I would have just asked Emmanuelle to pour the whole thing into the sink.

Now I'm trying to fend off someone who wants to drop off a giant pot of chili, "with all the fixings." I explained about the small containers, rather than a giant pot, but doubt the message will get through. If it doesn't, my new rule is anything that arrives here in a giant pot goes right back into the kindly charity-giver's car without ever entering my house.

I just can't take all the extra work and stress, which no one seems to want to hear. They think I look "great!" They can't believe I'm not really as festive and energetic as I used to be. Maybe they assume if they shove some music into the CD player here and turn what really should be a low-key visiting event into a cocktail party that will make everything fine. It doesn't.

Probably I should be firmer, but I don't want people to avoid me because I've become so horribly boring. What on earth is going on? Is all this really that difficult a concept?

Anyway, there are many people who do understand and really are so relaxing. Debbie helped me wash my hair in the sink this weekend and took Maia and I out for a little lunch at a local cafe. Emmanuelle got a flat tire on our way back from the dr yesterday but fortunately took care of it via Triple AAA without really any trouble. We arrived at Jerry's Deli for a milkshake and conveniently sat there while looking through the window for the truck to arrive at her parked car; it only took 20 minutes, thank God. Many other people are just considerately quiet and low-key and helpful, and understand when I say "no plus-ones" for these visits. And of course, the most important thing of all is just offering to help, and really being available to do so.

Me again: Oh, the part about washing the hair is so true. If you've read this blog for awhile you know how much the Washing of the Hair can turn into a Wagnerian Drama with all sorts of sturm un drang . Even with short hair, sometimes it is so just not worth it. I hate my hair very often when doing IVs and to have someone who would actually do it voluntarily, like Rita and some of the hospital nurses, were great (even if I was sooo tired I didn't want to).

And about being boring, that is true too. There is often a lot you can't do, other than sit there and have people talk to you, or watch movies. People that will just come over and talk, or bring food YOU LIKE, are great. They make you feel like you are still a person. After I was in the ICU in 2001, our church buddies got together an entire Thanksgiving dinner. It was amazing, and we never would've thought about it otherwise, because we certainly were not traveling to Pittsburgh that year and we didn't think it would be a good idea for people to come to us.

I know it can be a fine line. But, as Cathy illustrates, sometimes it is much easier to do the little things that "normal" people think are so inconsequential and easy that they don't count. They most certainly do!

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