December 2015 Column Winner

Presence or presents

Kaylea Hutson-Miller, The Grove Sun

Is there anyway you can come?
With those words, life changed for me this weekend.
On Friday morning, I received the call that my good friend Kim’s grandmother died.
Its been a long process, but Nana, as she was known, was able to die at home in her own space, thanks to the efforts of Kim and her mother.
On Friday evening, as the events of the day began to settle, Kim called.
Her simple question put things into perspective.
Trying desperately to hold things together for her family, her voice cracked as she asked, “I know it’s a deadline day, but is there anyway you can come Monday for the funeral?”
Kim and I have been friends since 1998. She taught me to quilt (first by hand, then by machine). We were in the same book club.
I’ve watched her son, who was just an elementary student at the time, grow up to become a married father of three.
It’s a friendship that has spanned both the years and miles. We talk on Facebook and when she “pocket dials” me, or when something significant happens in our lives.
She, along with her husband, drove three hours to be at the epic proposal when the Lawman decided to surprise me.
In July, they returned so Kim could serve as the “Girl Friday” at my wedding, helping me with a variety of tasks and basically keeping me calm before I walked down the aisle.
(She likes to regale people about how she had to “help” me get into those dreaded things known as spanxs. Let’s just say, it took a village and leave it at that.)
Kim’s only asked me to come like this once before.
When Kaleb was a teenager, he was involved in a dreadful wreck. With things touch and go, Kim asked me to come — and I did. I sat with her at the hospital, and helped her stay sane.
It was like that on Monday. Thanks to a variety of people, some on staff and others in the community, the contents of Tuesday’s issue of The Grove Sun was completed by the time I rolled out of town.
I drove those three hours, expecting to take my turn as Kim’s “Girl Friday,” or in today’s terms, be her Minion.
But instead of doing things, I found myself simply being present.
We laughed, we cried, we hugged. I held her hand (boy does she have a tight grip) through the visitation and funeral.
I’m a do-er by nature. I want to fix things.
In this instant, there was nothing to do or fix. Instead, my gift to her on this day was simple.
I was present.
I didn’t give her anything or do anything. My presence at the funeral was what she needed.
Oh I did get to hold all of Kaleb’s children — one of which is just a couple years shy of Kaleb’s age when I first met him — and I did help a bit at the post-funeral dinner.
But primarily, my gift was that of presence instead of presents.
It’s something to think about as you worry about what will go under the Christmas tree. Maybe what your friend or family member needs most isn’t another thing, but rather, time with you.
I learned Monday, that my presence alone was truly the best gift I could give my friend.

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