The Dumb Comfort of Your Presence

Hospital stays are one of the few times in adulthood when we have an excuse to drop all the busywork that normally preoccupies us and go to be with the people we love.  You simply spend time with them, without any social occasion for it–a wedding or anniversary, dinner or the theater.  You just sit there in the same room, making small talk or reading, offering the dumb comfort of your presence.  You are literally There for them.  When you’re a kid, this is one of dullest, most dehumanizing things you’re forced to do–being dressed up in a navy blazer or a sweater vest and dragged to family reunions to be fawned over like a photo in an album, your physical presence all that’s required of you.  But if you manage to make it to some semblance of adulthood, just showing up turns out to be one of the kindest, most selfless things you can do for someone.  And it isn’t only selfless.  At the beginning of my stay, my friend Lauren told me over the phone, “I know this seems like a drag, but someday, I promise you, you will look back and be grateful that you had this time…”

Tim Kreider, We Learn Nothing, pgs. 179-180

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