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Asking for Help

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Asking for Help is a Gift for the Giver as well as for the Receiver

Lots of healing is taking place at the Patrick-Goudreau household, and the troops have rallied.

It’s at times like these that the kindness of strangers and the generosity of friends becomes apparent and quite extraordinary.

When we were picking up a knee scooter from a complete stranger I met through my Buy Nothing group, she shared a number of helpful suggestions for me to make sure I heal smoothly and safely — having just gone through a much more serious break that required surgery and left hardware in her ankle to fuse her bones back together.

She suggested I set up a webpage telling friends near and far about the situation we’re in and letting them know about specific needs we have that they can volunteer for if they’re able and willing.

At first, I was reluctant to do so, feeling like it would be an imposition on my already-busy circle of friends. But then I remembered an incident several years ago that further embedded in my mind the belief that asking for help isn’t just a gift for the recipient; it’s a gift to the giver as well.

If We Don’t Tell, They Don’t Know

I was walking in our neighborhood and encountered a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile and immediately noticed a splint on her finger and a brace on her wrist. With concern, I asked what had happened, and she told me of an accident she had that resulted in a broken finger (among other things). I asked her why she hadn’t reached out and told me. She said she didn’t want to bother me, because she knew I was busy.

I found myself holding back tears. The last thing I ever want a friend to feel is that they can’t ask me for help.

Compassionately and sensitively, I communicated to her that by not asking me for assistance, she denied me the opportunity to show my love and friendship to her. And that even if I couldn’t help her, at least I would have known that she was suffering and could have extended my sympathy.

As I grappled with whether or not to ask friends for help, I remembered that experience with my friend and thought that by sharing our situation, the people who care about us would at least know what was going on and have the option of helping if they were willing and able.

So, I set up a page on GiveInKind, and sent it to our core circle of friends — even those who live far away since GiveInKind also offers the option to purchase gift cards for Whole Foods, Uber, DoorDash, etc.!

The response has been overwhelming, and everyone has thanked me for giving them the chance to show their support.

Healing Takes a Village

With a wheelchair + scooters all over the house, I’m coping well enough, but not being able to put any weight on my broken ankle for at least a month, I obviously can’t prep veggies, cook extensive meals, do dishes, clean litter boxes, water my gardens, or do all the daily things that make up a life.

My dear friends Lori and Milena came over for some girl time on Friday night, and Milena slept over, taking care of all the above needs + more! The next morning, after I was safely showered and dressed, she left; and a couple hours later, my goddaughter Jennae arrived with flowers and a delicious lunch from Burma Superstar, one of my favorite restaurants in Oakland.

Jennae was 10 when I volunteered to tutor her at her grammar school, and it turned into a mentor / mentee relationship. She’s now 33, and when she came on Saturday, she brought the young woman she is now mentoring — following in our footsteps.

Milena returned in the evening (with flowers from her garden!), and we settled down in the den to eat leftovers and watch a movie, and — once again — took care of everything that’s difficult or impossible to do when you’re incapacitated — unmaking the bed, closing the shades, putting a water glass on my nightstand, getting me tea ready for the next morning, carrying my iPad and laptop, and so much more.

Early the next afternoon, as Milena was heading out for good, my friend Michael came over with sandwiches from Ike’s, and after straightening a few things up, left me to some much-welcome solitude and quiet.

Come evening, I was grateful to welcome my dear friend Ellen, who arrived with flowers (from her garden!) and a delicious dinner of homemade ramen, veggies, and tofu, plus wonderful company, conversation, and wine.

Ellen snapped the cover photo of me icing my ankle with boot in one hand and a glass of vino in the other, feeling grateful for all the support and enveloped by all the love.

If we don’t ask, we don’t give others the chance to respond.

Thank you, my friends.

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