Seven years ago when my brother Bart was killed by a police officer, I was immobilized by grief.
My son D2 was just two years old and it was all I could do to function on a day to day basis let alone be a parent. Without asking, my nanny came to the house and stayed over night for many nights to take care of him.
Friends called me daily, took me out to dinner or just came by the house to hold my hand.
My co-workers sent cards and flowers and one close work-friend stepped in to take over a project so I could focus on funeral arrangements.
When my husband and I decided I should go home to California on my own for Bart’s funeral and he would stay behind to watch D2, my friend Susan, who lived on the East Coast, offered to fly with me to California so I wouldn’t be alone.
When I needed it most, my village came through for me.
We all need a village.
I was reminded of the importance of one’s village being part of a group of women, supporting my friend Devora, who is battling breast cancer. She is one of my personal heroes; I’ve watched her take on this epic battle with cancer with grace, resilience and tenacity.
Equally as impressive as her stubborn will to beat cancer, was the enormous group of friends and family members who mobilized around her.
When she announced her diagnosis on Facebook her enormous network mobilized. Some showed up at the hair salon to support her when she decided to shave her head.
Friends visited her in the hospital after her surgery. Family and friends brought her food, took out her dry cleaning and emptied waste baskets around the house. Cards and gifts poured in from around the country. We, her friends, marveled at the thoughtful gifts (a knitted blanket, stuffed pillows with funny messages and creams for to help radiation burned skin) that came from not just good friends but from acquaintances who wanted to support her.
You get back tenfold what you put into the world.
Devora too marveled at the many people who showed up over months of treatment to support her.
I wasn’t surprised.
What I know about Devora is she is an incredibly generous and loving person who would do anything to help those in need.
During her time of need the Universe paid her back for all of the love and generosity she poured into others.
She recently celebrated a milestone birthday that was equal parts birthday party and affirmation of life. In fact, the theme of the party was “Living My Best Life” and it was amazing! Every aspect of the party reflected her artistic personality and the many people in her life who wanted to contribute to celebrating her milestone birthday and resilience.
The privilege of sharing Devora’s journey has deeply affected me and caused me to renew my commitment to my own relationships. We don’t need to experience adversity to learn about the importance of our relationships.
How do you keep your village strong?
Take time to invest in the people you care about. We live in a busy, hyperconnected world. It’s easy to lose track of your friends but make it a point to keep in touch. Quality matters more than quantity.
I’m someone who doesn’t have a lot of friends but those few friendships I do have, I deeply value and I invest the time to nurture them. Do you show up for the people who need you most even when they don’t ask?
Maybe you are like me: it’s hard to ask for help. I’m surrounded by resourceful, strong, resilient women who are often charged with caring for others so I know that it may be hard for them to ask for help. Check in on your friend and ask how she’s doing.
I’m amazed at how many of us struggle privately and are secretly relieved when a friend randomly calls and asks, “How are you doing?”
Bottom line, we all have a village we can call on. When you need help, you may be surprised who shows up for you. Your turn. Have you ever had to lean on your village? Been part of someone else’s village? Share your experience in the comments.