“Tara, I have a mother. She lives way up north of here,” my brother-in-law Leroy said. He looked down at me and smiled.Last night at the Fair with Mess Cat and her family, the truth came out.
I try to fix people’s lives. Way. Too. Much.
I don’t even remember what we were talking about that triggered this response from Leroy, but the
truth is it was probably long overdue. No probably about it. It was way overdue.
I teased him. “You’ve never had a little sister before, have you?” I asked, knowing full well he hadn’t.
“No,” he answered.
“Well this is what one looks like. All this I’ve been saying, it’s how a little sister acts.”
(Like I would know this. I’ve never been a little sister in my life. Leroy is the closest thing I have to an older sibling–all of my other in-laws are younger than I am.)
He laughed and I laughed and all was good. And I really tried not to take care of things for him. Until.
About five minutes later. When we were looking for food, he decided he might forego what he had wanted to save a few minutes walk through the crowd of people.
When I started trying to “fix it” again before I could stop myself, Leroy turned to look at me. I knew I was doing it again. His look was patient and kind, but I knew. Stop it, Tara. Just stop it.
This morning I got a message from a sweet friend about something really bad that has happened in her family and she asked for prayers. I was thinking about her taking time to let me know about this, and I take it very seriously. She asked for prayers, and I have tried today to continuously let God know how much she means to me and ask that she have peace and that she not feel alone in this. I do not take it lightly that she asked me to keep her in my prayers.
Later, as I was pondering her request and the honor and huge deal it was that she asked, my Fabulous Friend messaged me this:
“Sometimes everyone you know has too many opinions and bias when all you really need is an ear.” –Fabulous Friend
And yet, how can I possibly be this for someone? I have it in me to try to fix situations/things/whatever for folks. Is it being the oldest or my personality type that causes this? Does it come from my fear of losing the people I want to fix things for because I’ve lost the ones I love the most? I don’t know, but it’s in there. And I’m having one more hard time trying to break myself of it.
To be an ear. To just listen and not offer my help or my thoughts on how to fix whatever it is? To simply be with someone? You’re asking for something mighty big there, my friend.
And yet, I think that is exactly what my sweet friend needs right now.
A week ago the guy who gets our fireplace up and running every year called and came out. He is a really nice person. We were catching up and he hesitated. Then he shared with me that his daughter in her mid-twenties died in a car accident over the summer, leaving her son for them to raise. Y’all. Nothing will hush up somebody who’s a fixer faster than this. There is nothing. NOTHING. that can fix bad stuff like this. Which is a good thing, because that is exactly what I could come up with. Nothing. My mind was spinning, and I did wind up telling him about the children’s bereavement camp that the Hospice I worked with holds every year. Right, wrong, or otherwise I felt the need to share that with him. Maybe I should have just been quiet and only been an ear, but old habits die hard. So it goes.
Since I heard from my sweet friend this morning about her family’s heartbreak, I have found out about another friend’s family member who died tragically, and about our Dear Lady friend whom my family loves and who is about to leave this world because of the cancer. Cancer comes real close to making me cuss. It makes me so mad whom it takes from us. And so tonight I am sad. For both of my friends and their losses and for this dear lady’s family and friends as they prepare to say “Bye for now.” And what tears me up most is that there isn’t anything I can do to fix any of it. Not a blame thing.
And so I look back to what my Fabulous Friend said. I will try to be an ear and just listen and not try to fix it or suggest options or carry on about what I did in a similar situation. I’m not promising anything, but I’m going to try. You hear that, Leroy?
Tonight I will lay my head down on my pillow with a heavy heart, filled with love and peace-filled thoughts for my friends and our Dear Lady’s family. I give thanks for friends who entrust me with their stories and who ask for my ear and my heart and my prayers. And I am especially grateful for a brother-in-law who will call me on my stuff and still love me, and for a wise Fabulous Friend who serves as a compass for me on my journey of letting go. I wish change weren’t so hard.