By: LUMO Leaders
After two years of successfully playing “Don’t Capture the Flag,” (Covid = Flag), my husband and I finally succumbed to the virus on Memorial Day.
Somehow, our son—he who eats only white foods, hot dogs, and Nutella—proved impervious to the ‘Rona.
What ensued next was an “Upstairs/Downstairs” quarantine where Sam was the boss of the first floor, lord of our dog, and point of communication with the outside world while Mike and I lay ill on the sealed off second floor.
It is amazing how quickly one can clear one’s VERY “important” schedule. Just the previous week I had been considering how I could make space to support my son in his first ever week of high school finals and the cacophony of the last week of school activities. It seemed challenging, but doable. And then? Suddenly, with the double Covid surprise package, we had all the time in the world, and nowhere to go. Certainly not anywhere near our son.
This meant we had to ask for help.
My husband is a nice, polite buttoned-down lad from Cape Cod who doesn’t like to “bother people.” He has adapted well to being my partner in life and parenting, but he hasn’t really jumped into the deep end of discomfort which, for him, is asking for help. Oh, he’ll throw a line, row a life raft, or jump in the water for others, but asking for help for himself is way on the outer edges of his zone of comfort.
Lucky for him, he’s married to me. I’ve been asking for help since the dawn of Anna time. I’m the scrappy youngest of three children who believes in getting my needs met and the general goodness of humanity. I live by the credo that humans like to be helpful and connected to a community. I also LOVE to help people, so I feel like it’s a revolving good deal. An unbreakable electrical circuit of energy that feeds two people (or more!) simultaneously.
And so, I flew our Covid quarantine flag (metaphorically) and let our neighbors know that we were in a tight spot and then–stick with me here because this is the tricky bit for some people–when they offered to help I didn’t say, “oh, no, we’re fine,” or “I’ll let you know…” Nope! I said:
“Hell to the YES PLEASE!”
I didn’t play coy. I didn’t act all prideful and self-sufficient. I humbled myself in their kindness and felt awash with gratitude that there are people who love us, and that Sam gets to see what community support looks like. (And then write thank you notes for it later!)
How did our friends and neighbors show up? In ways big and small…
Here’s what we received over our ten days in captivity:
10 Rides to and from school for our son
Groceries (three times)
Prepared dinners, calories both homemade & store-bought
Extra Covid tests
Tampons (No small task, because there is a tampon shortage!)
A ride to the mall and style consultation for Sam’s semi-formal dance
A belt for Mr. Tiny-Waist’s new fancy pants
A ride to the dance!
The thing we received in the greatest portion was LOVE. So much love! In actions, in text messages, in Zoom calls… Every day, so much love from this community that has embraced us.
But this isn’t just a one way street. We all do this for each other on the regular. We walk each other’s dogs, transport each other’s children, share tools, sports equipment, and condiments. We pick each other up from concerts, airports, the mechanic. We show up for each other, coordinating on a massive text thread that predates Covid.
It might be something as small as a lime for a marinade (wink, wink… the lime is always for a gin & tonic), or it might be as essential as holding your hand while your parent is in surgery.
So, while I may still have a very fuzzy Covid brain, I do actually have a point:
ASK FOR HELP!
When we ask for help, we make it okay for others to ask for help as well. This obliterates the self-sufficiency staring contest we are so culturally fond of, which is GREAT because all contestants lose in that game. Asking for help allows someone else to feel helpful. It shows others that this is a legit way to be a community. And giving help completes the circle of friendship and generosity and creates a sustained engine of humanity.
When we’re feeling better, you can bet your bum that I’ll be the food delivery/chauffeur/love muffin neighbor of my community’s dreams. And I’ll be eager to do it because once you’re part of a community that works, you want to keep that party bus a-rollin’ in good times and bad.
As the minister in my husband’s childhood church used to say before the passing of the offering plate: “Give so that others might receive; take so that others might give.”
It’s powerful to realize how much the second half of that equation matters.
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