“I had no idea there’d be such an outpouring…I’m not used to being on the receiving end.” Tears started to stream down the face of the child turned man whose blue eyes matched his hospital gown. My first-born Benjamin gave his first Facebook thanks two weeks after a driver on I-80 crossed the median at full speed, hitting Ben’s car head-on, crushing his limbs and his hopes for the year ahead.
Ben’s friends had been eager to start a GoFundMe to help. He was reluctant. Being white and male and educated he knew his privilege. What he did not know was the duration of his healing journey and the high cost of not being able to walk or work or open a jar.
Ben is both independent and generous. He’s traveled from India to Guatemala. For years he worked a low wage job helping disabled teens. He has a heart that longs to heal others. For him, giving is easier than receiving.
As soon he said yes to all things offered from friends, family, and community, the giving began. Lush plants to restore his spirits. A tray to attach to his walker once he was able to get out of a hospital bed. Meals from shepherd’s pie and Pad Thai to wheat berry soup made with bone broth. From good wishes via text to big dollars from Alaska to a Mass in March, the giving’s been ongoing.
I, too, hesitated at the help at times. When my law partner said an attorney with the bar association wanted to share Ben’s story with lawyers across Nebraska, I paused. When I was willing to open to the generosity of my colleagues, the giving ballooned.
Somewhere past 100 I lost count of the number who helped in some way. Some we’d known since Ben was born. Many I’d not been in touch with for years. Everyone cared.
Gift giving is said to be one of our languages for showing our love. Thoughtfulness and generosity are a way to say, “I’m thinking about you. I care about you. I wish you well.” I like calling it love.
It’s been said you have a few months after a wedding and longer after a funeral to give your thanks. I don’t know the etiquette for car crashes. I figure it will take a lifetime.
Do you ever hesitate to let in support?
What might you receive if you were more receptive?
What gratitude do you have for the gifts of others?