Five years ago, a few months after Gabe died, there was a work pot luck. I brought something for the event, but after all the food was laid out, I found it so overwhelming to be in the company of so many, and so I I took my food and I went back to my desk and ate there.
A few minutes after I left, a colleague arrived. She pulled up a chair and sat next to me. She smiled and said “I thought I would join you so you didn’t feel alone. You don’t have to talk. This must be hard for you. “
I could have cried from the kindness of it.
It was such a simple, such a small gesture. I think that she doesn’t remember it any longer, it was so natural for her and yet it meant so very much to me. It was a life preserver on a stormy sea, a reminder that even in my broken state I had worth and was cared for.
It was so simple and yet, even if she doesn’t remember it, I do. It stays with me. It is the most profound and object lesson in my life about how very simple and small things can be such great things.
I belonged to an organization that used the True Colours personality assessments. There are effectively 4 types of people. I am Green and Gold with a bit of orange, which means that I am a thinker, I am organized and driven and I’m not such a details person.
The one thing I didn’t score highly on was the blue segment – these are the empaths, the sensitive types, the feelers and the care-ers. That didn’t used to be me – eve a little bit. It’s still not – I still bowl my way past and over people far too often. I am a get it done, get out of my way sort of person.
But, tonight, as I sent thank you notes to the team I am leading, I thought of Tara, the woman who sat next to me. I thought of how very much it meant and I took the 25 minutes extra to make sure that I said thank you. Not just thank you, but thank you in a very specific way, one that reflected what was important to those people and honoured their contributions, individually.
And this really isn’t me patting myself on the back. At least, I don’t intend for it to be that.
Really, this is more about me thanking Tara. For that time she sat next to me, but also for the lesson it taught me about caring. For this lesson: that the most powerful things we can do for each other are those moments when we think most of the other person, acknowledge their humanity, what makes them special and what matters to them and then we come along side and we hold that up.
So Tara, I know I sent you a note years ago to say thanks. To let you know how much it mattered to me. That’s how I know that you didn’t remember what you did. I just wanted you to know, it mattered then and it still matters now.