“This is your time. This time we are for you.” Last year around this time, that was my French Canadian grandmother of ninety-one years, Lulu, cheering me onward as we spoke over skype (as I tried to look ‘healthy’ with my bald head and worn out expression, since no one wants to look sick in front of their grandmother). She sent her support, like everyone else – and I was so incredibly thankful. ‘People are at their best during the worst’, I heard that the other day on Lost (I think), and during my worst, people were truly incredible.
And last year I thought to myself while pre-made food arrived, as friends visited, when family called from across the ocean and coached me via skype, I thought to myself, “once I’m all better, I’ve got to give back.”
The number of ways to ‘give back’ are endless, from blogging to volunteering to donating to running marathons. . . possibilities stretch before a thankful survivor who needs to honour the goodness they’ve experienced. But I hadn’t imagined giving back would start so close to home, so close in the family.
This week Zsolt and I are thick in the woods of the Mount Tremblant area, hanging out at my aunt’s cottage and keeping her and my grandmother company. Now, one year later, this is Lulu’s time, and this time we are for her. While I haven’t written a single word of fiction (or fact, apart from this blog) during this mountain retreat, I have cooked some lovely meals, watched my husband stoke the fire, enjoyed driving tours with my aunt, played rummy with family, listened to my grandmother’s memories of her parents (and her parent’s parents, and her aunt, who was a nun) . . . and I am reminded that sometimes the best way to help another person is simply to be available.
Being here. Cooking food. Listening to stories. Going for a latte.
Last year those were the little things that made an incredible difference in my fight, and this year – though the circumstances are completely different (though the exhaustion isn’t, I can imagine) – these are the same things that helps everyone smile. And when we’re smiling, all else moves aside like sunshine through clouds. A generous reminder that life can be wonderful, and we can be wonderful to one another.