BE THERE; BUT WHERE?
It’s happened. The only thing worse than your own personal crisis. The personal crisis of another. Not just a-nother, either. This is the other. The only other person in this world who knows, and can tell you, exactly what is good for you, exactly what you should have done, and exactly what the fallout will be when you petulantly but inevitably opt to do it your own way. The person who brought you in to this world “on a perfect day just thirty years ago . . . ,” and who, on countless occasions since that perfect day has all-too-credibly threatened to take you out of it.
I am not talking about the one who shared your first apartment; I’m talking about the one who taught you a back-breaking lesson about how to clean it (“Toothbrush, meet baseboard.”) I’m not talking about the one who caught your bouquet, I’m talking about the one who caught your bouquet; I’m talking about the one who picked it out with an expert eye and paid for it without batting one. I am talking about the only human being on the face of the Earth who always, unfailingly, and without exception takes your phone call.
And now she’s in crisis.
Oh. And you can’t think of even one single thing to do about it.
People say: “Be there.” Just “Be there.” But where? Where the hell is this “there” where you so desperately and urgently need to be? In the bed right there beside her – really? – spooning into mutual atrophy? At the bedside – maybe? – an anxious sentry changing the guard only whenever a fresh pot of coffee is on? A phone call away – perhaps? – existing at a slightly sub-par level in your own life, ever-ready to drop any and everything at marimba’s first litlingly digital note?
They’re all too much, right? And none of these options is actually enough, either. In any way you play it, you tax yourself broke physically, mentally, emotionally, paying into a coffer from which she can never draw. Not that you’ll ever know what it is that levies this cost on you: the circumstances themselves or your responses to them? That’s for you to box up now and mail to your Future Self to obsess over. You’ll have years for that.
It is my hope that being there means presence of spirit; offering any talent you may posses (however pathetically underdeveloped) to better the cause; and just being yourself. Be there for the giving of the knowing grin, for the grilling of the surgeon with a suggestive boilerplate question, for the idle chat about anything other than the prognosis and the weather.
It’s really less about being there, and all about being their’s.