For years I have written intensively and passionately about 'the gift of presence.' So the assumption is correct, that I unquestionably believe in it. It matters not what you say, but simply that you are there. It is the only and best gift you can give ~ the only one we truly have. I have lived it. I have been the gift of presence for so many over my lifetime and have heard "thank you for just being there for me...it has meant the world. Thank you for listening, for holding my hand, for being my anchor" I always just assumed it was the least I could do as a being on this journey through life. Now I realize it is the most I can do! It truly does mean everything. Perhaps it is time we all evaluate whether or not we provide a gift of presence to those in need.
I have a friend whose wife is terminally ill and doesn't have much time left on this earth. They have been married 28+ years and their journey has been one of love and devotion, with each being present for the other. She is in hospice at home. His love for her has never been deeper. He is her sole caretaker and the toll on him and their children is showing. He calls me so that I can listen. I am an ear. It is all I can do. I am offering him my most precious gift! The gift of presence. It is appreciated. He hand feeds her baby food, he bathes her, he listens to each breath she takes and cherishes it, he holds in his sorrow like a baby robin close to his chest. He loves this woman so much that he will not, cannot leave her side for a moment. It was a vow, a promise they made to each other years ago. A vow he intends to keep. A gift never ending.
But being present and listening sometimes comes with self sacrifice and great pain, and also an addendum...you must be able to truly hear. You must be able to feel. You must be able to dig deep into that well inside of you and find the compassion that each human being must have for another who needs them more than they might possibly ever know themselves or express. We can send flowers, and cards and emails, and messages, or ask what they might want, but to be present, to listen, to hear, to offer your heart in its entirety and the compassion so desperately necessary when someone is hurting, is the greatest gift of all. To me it is why we are on this earth.
We are each souls on this earth with gifts to give. What are the gifts you have to give to this world, to those your love, to those you might not even know or ever meet? What you are intending is what you create. The energy of that intention comes back to you. But somewhere along the way life screws us up and our priorities get out of whack and then you are unable to fulfill your purpose on this earth and for those who need you the most. You stumble and might wonder what went wrong. Then the answer might not be so complex. JUST BE THERE.
So my decades of writing about and promoting 'the gift of presence' was referencing what our dogs provide to us. Unconditional, nonjudgmental love as they snuggle close, never leaving our sides, only understanding in some mystical way what we feel and what is needed. If only more people could be the same, provide the same, asking for nothing in return.
You just might find that when you are whole, giving, loving, and tender you begin to see others differently. It is a gift you give that quite simply says, 'you are hurting, you are in need, I am here.' The response you will receive is organically, viscerally, and instinctively vital ~ "I feel safe with you". Admiration deepens, love deepens, and the surprise ending is grace given in a sea of ignorance and kindness in a world sadly lacking real compassion.
There are times when our greatest triumph is that we are holding on quite simply by putting one foot in front of the other and enduring. It is a whole lot easier to 'get by' , to hang in there and to keep looking forward with hope and expectancy if there is someone offering you that blessed gift of presence.