First response


When any kind of crisis hits, you expect your closest family and friends to respond, but especially family.  I've had many moments to reflect on who was there for me, for Mom, for Al as Dad became more ill.  911 . . . who checked in, who sent us a note, who called, who visited.  Mom has done the same.  

Sometimes we've been disappointed that we didn't hear at all from particular family members or friends. 911.  Uncle Regino reminds me that sometimes, people don't know how to respond to a crisis situation. They may not know what to say, they may not know how to react.  911.  While I am still coming to terms with accepting that, I still wonder . . . 911.  How could they not acknowledge Dad's death or more importantly, his life?  How could they not send an email?  How could they not call?  Couldn't they have sent a simple note? But every person's different. We never know exactly what people are thinking or feeling.  Maybe they can't confront their own emotions around illness and death.  

Or even worse.  911.  Sometimes people say the most absolute wrong thing, the most insensitive thing. Maybe because they don't know any better.  But maybe for the same reason -- because they can't confront their own fears around illness and death.  And for those folks, I have learned to grow tremendous compassion and in those moments of unbelievable heartlessness, I have learned to just walk away. It is one of the most challenging actions I have had to learn, especially when those folks are family. 911.

In a family where I have been taught emotional intimacy, daily phone call check-ins and saying 'I love you' at the end of conversations and in-person visits, I have learned in my three and half years of marriage that that doesn't happen in all families.  

Despite that, my first response to any 911 family crisis is -- How are you?  We're thinking of you.  We love you. Know that we're here for you.  Please let us know how we can support you. 

Because sometimes that's all we need to hear.