Kindness Has No Expiration Date

Originally posted on social media on April 28, 2021

This photo is of me and my childhood best friend, Tera. Before I was married, had kids, cancer or lived through the death of my precious child, Tera and I grew up together in Fresno. For those who don’t know, Fresno is about 4 hours away from LA. Tera and I see each other once or twice a year now, but it always feels like no time has passed.

When I was in the hospital after my mastectomy, Tera surprised me when she walked in. She just felt she needed to be there, so she came. Similarly, on the morning that Molly’s condition took a sharp turn for the worse, Tera woke up and felt compelled to come. Jon and I had left the hospital to wait at home because it would be hours before Molly was out of surgery. My phone rang and Tera said, I’m downstairs. I just needed to see you. I explained that we were home, so she came to our house.

It was the three of us, Jon, Tera and me. Jon and I were terrified and basically catatonic when we weren’t sobbing. Tera said, I feel like I’m intruding. I don’t need to stay. I reminded her of how she’d shown up when I had surgery. I said that it takes a very special person to be able to sit with someone in their pain. She went into the kitchen and washed dishes. She opened the fridge to see what we had (not much since nobody had been home). She said, Jon, do you want me to make you a quesadilla? He looked up and said, you know what, that would actually be really nice.

We did not know what we needed. Tera did not know how she could help. She just showed up. Her simple acts of care and kindness came when we needed them most. She had no way of knowing that when she woke up that morning. At that time, we’d all been told that Molly was going to be fine.

I’m sharing this to encourage you to just show up for those in need. Maybe it’s physically showing up. Maybe it’s sending a text. Maybe it’s coming every week and cleaning out your refrigerator, like our friends, Erin and Tom do. Maybe it’s making a standing appointment to talk every week, like my beloved teacher, Mr. Haggard. I’m fortunate that I could go on and on with examples.

Many well-intentioned people say, I’m here if you need anything. The problem is that people who are suffering usually don’t know what they need. Jon didn’t know he needed simple sustenance until Tera appeared in our kitchen and offered to make it. I didn’t know that all the food was piling up in the fridge until Erin and Tom made it their job to organize it. My friend, Leslie, has shown up for me every day of every ordeal I’ve been through since we met over 20 years ago by staying in constant text communication. Even when I can’t answer, she writes. Just show up.

Please don’t let fear of saying “the wrong thing” or that your efforts are too late hold you back. Kindness has no expiration date. If you don’t know what to say, I suggest, I’m so sorry. How are you today? Awkward silence and avoidance makes your grieving/ill/traumatized/insert applicable word here friend feel worse. I’m bothered when people ask me questions that I can tell are motivated by morbid curiosity, or narcissistically make our tragedy about them. Nothing else is the wrong thing to say.

Thank you to everyone who continues to show up for us in myriad ways, including and especially by telling us how they remember our girl. Please send us every photo, video or memory you have of her! We want to talk about Molly, so please never hesitate to say her name. You are doing a mitzvah as we Jews say (a good deed) by helping us keep her spirit alive. Thank you.

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