Being away from people that you love is hard. It’s harder when you get news of their pain, suffering and illness. Every bone in your body wants to do something. Jump into action, help make it right, make them better. But sometimes you can’t. Sometimes the distance that you would need to travel is too great, other responsibilities too much or maybe it is financially unachievable. Whatever the reason, knowing that someone you love and care about greatly is not right and that you can’t do anything about it is heart wrenching.
9 years ago my Dad moved to the USA. He has had a few health scares over the years, most of which he has brushed off without any fuss to us kids. This week he was taken into hospital, and it seemed like it could be bad. We found out in the middle of the night (mainly due to the time difference) that he’d been taken in with abnormalities in his breathing and heart.
There is honestly nothing to make you feel more impotent than hearing that someone you care about as much as your parents are possibly critically ill and yet being absolutely incapable of doing anything about it. I wanted to make sure they were doing all the correct tests, make sure they were doing them promptly, and then reacting on the results. Everything seemed to be taking far too long, for goodness sake, this isn’t anyone, this is my Dad; you need to fix him now. There was also a nagging in my mind that perhaps he is worse than my stepmom is telling me. She could be trying to protect me from knowing how bad he is.
Most of all I just wanted to see him. Give him a cuddle and tell him I loved him. Of course, I’ve told him that I love him hundreds of times, but it suddenly became important to tell him so again, to remind him. I tried to think back to the last time that I saw him, or spoke to him: what had I said, will he know I care? What if that is the last time I ever spoke to him? The time difference between us often makes it difficult to talk at a convenient time, he may well call as I’m cooking dinner or putting the kids to bed. Did I give him my full attention?
I imagine how I would have felt if that initial message saying that my Dad was ill instead had said something else, imagine if it had been worse news. Would I have been happy that I had done everything in my power recently to make my dad feel loved?
This week has made me realise the importance of making sure that I strengthen the chain that holds our lives together. Not just with my dad but with everyone I care about. I am going to make the effort, go out of my way to let people know that I care. There are a million ways to do it, and they don’t need to cost money or even vast amounts of time. I can call someone I care about for no reason whatsoever, tell them or show them through my words that I’m thinking about them, that they matter. A text or a Facebook message can do the same thing, sometimes it’s not about how or what you say to people, it’s the fact you have reached out to them in some way. I can send small surprises to people I love. I can offer to help them out, pay them a compliment, it doesn’t really matter how or what I do, the important thing is to let them know that I care. That they matter.