A Little Help
I’ve thought about entitling my book, “The Human Connection Project” because once I was diagnosed with cancer, it seemed like relating to others was one of the things that mattered most to me. I found myself connecting with nurses, doctors, other patients and everyone in between as we shared (often intimate) stories about our lives. I learned that I was a good listener and that I could create energy with other human beings simply by being honest, open and vulnerable.Since I’ve started back at Cala’s, I’ve continued to work the Saturday day shift by myself. Saturdays are fucking slammed. I basically run around like a chicken with my head cut off, give half assed(ish) service and have chronic resting bitch face because I’m trying so hard to concentrate on where I need to be next. Customers are satisfied and I make a lot of money. But I leave every Saturday night feeling unsettled. My gut literally turns when I’m driving home and mentally recapping my day. I’ve missed out on so many conversations that I’ve had to cut short to go refill cokes. I look people in the eye, but only briefly to try and remember if they ordered the Baked Fish Sandwich or a Burger. I’m in the perfect profession to meet new people, to connect, talk, listen, and still make a living. But I’ve passed by my blatant opportunity to “help others” just so that I can walk out the door with a few extra bucks in my pocket and go home to write about human connections. Pathetic.I grew up going to church. Like A LOT of church. During that time in my life, I probably heard close to 5,000 sermons and there is one that has stuck with me forever. A quick story: Three Divinity students have to preach at three separate churches as part of their final project. The topic is, “The Good Samaritan.” Their professor has staged someone who needs help directly in the path of the students as they head towards their respective churches. Only one stops to help the person in need. The other two pass by and rush off to the pulpit so that they can be on time to teach a congregation about “helping others,” and finish their project. One pass, two fails.A few weeks ago, Sam, Mike and I had Sunday brunch at Shea’s. We were seated in a little room in the back with a table facing the Essex River. A couple in their late 50’s/early 60’s walked by us pushing a 12 year old boy in one of those REALLY intricate wheelchairs. The kind of wheelchair with a headrest for each side of his face. There was a backpack with the name “Edy” hanging off of one of the handles. They were at the restaurant for a function that was located in the room above us. We watched (but didn’t stare) as Edy’s parents grabbed his underarms and ankles and carried him up the steps towards the party. A few minutes later, Edy’s dad came downstairs to grab the backpack. He smiled at Sam, asked how old he was and if we lived around here. We answered and then reciprocated his question by asking how old Edy was. “Edy is our 4th child. Our other three children are all grown and we adopted Edy a few years ago. Our daughter was working in an orphanage overseas and we met Edy there. He was born as a fully functioning baby but suffered severe brain damage after he was abused when he was 2 years old.” My eyes welled up with tears. They were stinging but I looked right at him and replied, “You are amazing.”I recently read a quote that defined a hero as, “somebody who is selfless, who is generous in spirit, who just tries to give back as much as possible and help people.” Yes, it made my stomach sick thinking about someone hurting a walking and talking 2 year old baby. Honestly, it’s hard for me to even comprehend. I couldn’t help but picture Sam and it made me want to throw up. But on that Sunday, the tears that poured down my face while I ate my lobster benedict weren’t for Edy. They were for this man and his wife. I was completely overwhelmed with their decision to spend the rest of their lives parenting someone who needs 24 hour care. To me, THIS is heroic. This is strength. This is when people are just THE Shit. It’s an ultimate sacrifice. It’s being phenomenal, and letting love guide your path. It’s paying it forward and it left a mark on my soul.For close to three years, I’ve been teaching the Saturday morning 7:15am yoga class at the Beverly Sterling Center YMCA. I’m perpetually 3-7 minutes late every week. I am NOT a morning person. When Mike and I got together, he begged me to give it up. As you can imagine, I don’t make much money AT ALL by teaching there. But I kept telling him how much I LOVED leading the class. The people, the energy, the dedication- I knew there was something bigger than just physical yoga that lived in that room. When I got sick, those people helped us out (like so many others) by giving money, bringing meals, sending messages, emails and prayers. One of my Y students gave $1,000. to my gofundme site. $1,000 from someone I don’t know at all, except from a few classes at the YMCA. Here I was thinking that I was making a sacrifice by getting my lazy ass to that class, and these people were the ones who ended up being a part of my safety net when I needed help.Not all of us will adopt a child with special needs. I mean that story is just over-the-top huge. That man will continue to inspire me until the day that I die. Not everyone can afford to give monetarily. I don’t expect (and am not trying) to have a therapy session with every table I wait on. And I think I’ll let Mike be the one to run into burning buildings to save lives. But are there day to day decisions that we can make that may not benefit ourselves, but could greatly impact someone else? How can we be selfless, generous in spirit and give back as much as possible? I don’t think it has to be big. I think it can be simple, and just a step in a positive direction. More importantly, how can I actually make this a part of MY life? I know I can help more, I know I can give more. I want to be that kind of amazing. Also, I hired someone to work Saturdays with me. She starts next week.