Not so long ago, my roommate returned home after a doctor’s appointment and coming into my room blurted out, ‘do you want to know the results of my blood tests? ‘. I wanted to know how she was doing, but her tone caused me to hesitate and instead of saying yes, I answered, ‘ is it good news or bad? ‘ How I would have responded if the news was unfavorable I don’t know because at that moment Sherlock, her favorite collie entered the room, leash between his teeth and the next minute the two of them were off to the park. Knowing it would be a couple of hours before they returned, I sat down at the computer. For some unknown reason I thought if I stared at the screen and placed my fingers on the keyboard, I would know what to answer when the inevitable moment arrived.
My roommate did not make it back that afternoon. A phone call from a hospital employee informed me that she had a heart attack while still in the park; a neighbor phoned for the ambulance; she was still in surgery; surgery was expected to last a few more hours. I stood there alone, speechless and in shock. Shortly after that call the same said neighbor, with Sherlock at his side, knocked at the door.
Would it have happened if I had stopped her from going out, if I had made her sit down and tell me the results of those tests, if I had been the one to take the dog to the park? It was this incident that made me realize that there was an opportune time and manner for divulging sensitive information and that once heard other questions are bound to be asked and unexpected emotions released. Communication has always been a two way street. True friends were the ones who stood by you in times of crisis.
I have learned that when it comes to sharing information that might alter the relationship you have with another it is wise to employ self control and discretion. Now when I hear a friend is going through a difficult time I am prepared to listen. The fear and uneasiness have disappeared. There are no more awkward silences. I no longer assume to know what someone needs. Nothing they do is frustrating and nothing they say or blurt out is hurtful. If they cannot decide what to tell me or if they choose to keep the details of their condition private, I try my best to understand, to empathize. As a listener, I too wonder if I should tell or not tell, all that I am feeling or thinking. Above all else I continually remind myself that I am not a medical health professional. Nor can I make decisions for them or solve their problems. I am a friend.
Every situation, every person is different and there are a variety of circumstances that can change or complicate the outcome. Teach yourself now to be adaptable then when you find yourself in the midst of an unexpected crisis you will have the confidence to act. Become dependable and stay dependable. Remember to take care of you so you can take care of someone else.