This question came from my seven-year-old son, as he watched me struggle with sad news about an old friend.
My knee jerk reaction was to say, “no, of course it won’t,” but that would have been callous.
To my son, five dollars was so much more than a monetary value. Five dollars was how he represented love. Five dollars was his way of ensuring me that he cared enough to give me everything in his piggy bank of coins. A piggy bank that he talks about daily and is so proud to place a coin in each time he completes a chore or gets an extra quarter for doing something helpful.
So as I sat there crying, I pulled him close and thanked him for his most generous offer. I said and did what most parents would do, reminding him that he worked hard for that money and I would be happy to watch him spend it on himself.
Later that evening, long after the conversation ended and I had further digested the sad news, I began to think about the value of a gesture – especially in regards to where it came from. See, for my son, his gesture was so incredibly sincere and genuine, that the dollar value went over his head. Yet, if I turned around and gave him another $5.00, he would have be elated, so very grateful, and forever indebted to me (at least until the following morning when he forgot all about the event).
When you see someone struggling, what do you offer them?
Are you the type of friend who makes dinner, cleans their home, and single handedly runs their household until they get back on their feet? Or maybe you are the friend who turns into an assassin and swears to gain revenge on their behalf to help them move past their sorrow with a smidge of humour. Or are you the friend who sits with them as they struggle, passing along a sense of calm and peace, being ready to talk when they are?
When my beloved Aunt died five years ago, I can remember sitting at her bedside in the hospice, weeping as she laid there heavily sedated, yet comfortable from her cancer pain. As I cried over her, she whispered her last words to me, “Don’t cry, little one.”
Naturally, I cried more. But those words sat heavily on me long past her death. She was dying, yet in her pain, she was comforting me with exactly what I needed to hear. How can someone who is on the precipice of death, know exactly what to say to someone who is hurting?
When we are overwhelmed and sad, those who love us will always try to lift us up. They might come to us with the wrong “item” but like my seven-year-old, behind that item is intent and that is where the value comes from. Things only make us feel better temporarily but actions of love, they last a life time.
So that evening as I sat in silence, sipping a peppermint tea while recalling memories and times when pain and death wasn’t a reality, I whispered, “don’t cry, little one,” and felt a new found bravery wash over me. I knew that no matter how hard life became, there would always be someone in my life who reminded me that I’m worth the entire contents of a child’s hard earned piggy bank – which really means, that I am worth someone’s everything.