MINDING THE HEART
I have a neighbor who, over the years, has become a dear friend. I have always sensed a goodness in his heart, unique among men. But it wasn't until this day that I saw how good his heart truly was.
When he heard our son was admitted to Primary Children’s Hospital for end-stage heart failure he quietly came to visit Mitch and offer some love and support. He didn't need to come all that way to see us – he could have sent a text message or an email. But, in an effort to show how much he cared, he went out of his way to cheer Mitch on.
I’ll never forget how gently this noble man sat by Mitch and talked to him; he was considerate of my dying son and had a quiet and loving demeanor; he was never overbearing, but gentle and kind. He listened to Mitch, told some jokes and made him smile. Most importantly Mitch felt loved.
As I escorted my friend out of the CICU and down the dark hospital hall he turned to me with tears in his eyes. Suddenly, tears burst out of mine, too. I don’t know what crossed his mind at this moment; perhaps he realized how much my heart was breaking and though Mitch was not his son, he mourned with me and felt a measure of our family’s sorrow. Once again, I was on the receiving end of that most profound doctrine of mourning with those that mourn – and I was blessed because of it. I don’t know why mourning with those that mourn helps, but it does.
It wasn't long after my friend left the hospital that Mitch said in a soft voice, “Dad, Nate is so nice to me. I like him.” I kissed Mitchell’s forehead and said, I like him too. I was so grateful that my neighbor and friend took time out of his busy life to mind my son’s other heart and let him know he was loved.
Minding the heart is not so much a tricky thing – it goes beyond the words we say, to feelings we bring. So often I've heard people struggle over what to say to those who grieve. Sometimes they say nothing, for fear they may offend. Others try to rescue and pile on advice in an effort to mend. Most often I hear, “I don’t know what to say.” To them I respond, “Don’t worry, that’s okay. It is seldom the words you say or splatter, but the feeling behind them that shows you care … that their feelings matter.”
Far better to say “I care” and mean it, than lather on words, advice or dismiss someone’s grief and demean it. Minding the heart is so simple, but so profound; we must only listen with our heart and remember love is a feeling more than a sound.
So thank you, my neighbor and kind friend, for minding our hearts and helping us mend; not so much by your actions and words, but the love in your heart which transcends what is heard.