Thursday, October 02, 2008

Words, Tea, Knitting Needles

First the Quote of the Day:

"If you aspire to be a person of consolation, if you want to share the priestly gift of sympathy, if you desire to go beyond giving commonplace comfort...and if you long to go through the daily exchanges of life with the kind of tact that never inflicts pain, then you must be prepared to pay the price for a costly education-for like Christ, you must suffer." F.W.Robertson

I found this quote on someone's blog and forgot whose--sorry--please comment if it was yours and I'll give proper credit.

I copied the quote and shared it with my nice niece Annette and also with Emily, who has relapsed horribly the last few weeks after being well enough to volunteer at school the first week or two.

Emily wondered what this quote was all about. I said, "For the rest of your life, when you meet someone going through something hard, especially a chronic illness, you will say the right thing."

She said, "I will? If I met someone like that right now I have no idea what I'd say."

And I said, "You don't have to know. The point is that when the time comes, the right words will be in your heart and they will come out of your mouth. You don't have to plan them out ahead of time, and you really don't have to worry about saying something ham-fisted and inappropriate, because you just won't."

My brother Marcus, who lost his son two years ago, often talks about people who said just the right thing and others who said exactly the wrong thing, astonishingly so at times. Someone overheard him saying this and murmured in my ear that they have no idea if they said the right or wrong thing but they suspect it was the latter, and how on earth do you know?

Well, how indeed? Here's my advice gleaned from the last year: you can't go wrong with, "I've been thinking about you," "We're praying for you," "Can I stop by to visit Emily?" "It must be very hard." "Here's something for your supper."

You can go very wrong with advice*, intrusive questions, cliches, and knowing all the answers.

If you don't know what to say, a hug says more than words, and you don't have to say a thing.

*Bad advice-giving: "Do this!" "Good grief, why don't you do this?"
Good advice-giving: "I have an idea for you. Contact me sometime if you want to."

Speaking of hugs, they can be rather dangerous.

Last weekend Emily was introduced to a wonderful tea called Rooibos that tastes as robust as black tea but doesn't have the caffeine. She came home and researched it on Wikipedia and discovered that it's actually the "bush tea" that Precious Ramotswe was always drinking in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books. How cool is that. She really wanted some of her own, since she loves tea but shouldn't have caffeine, so today she and I researched the yellow pages.

After school I took Ben, Stephie, and Kayla to Albany for drivers ed class, then I followed my nose out to the Allann Bros. coffee wholesalers where I was told they have Rooibos tea. There it was, in a lovely little white bag on the shelf near, could it be, genuine Kenya tea! Both were put in a cool little paper sack with handles and brought home.

I took the bag upstairs and gave it to Emily, who was lying on the couch knitting a scarf. She opened the bag, discovered the Rooibos, grinned in delight, squealed, and enveloped me in a grateful hug.

Which was nice, but oh, such a sudden and terrible pain in my navel. It turned out that she had laid her knitting needles on her lap with the dangerous ends out, and when she hugged me, they stabbed me right in the stomach.

I haven't seen Emily laugh that hard in a long time. It was good therapy for us both I'm sure, and worth the pain.


  1. I am a little concerned that the knitting needles in the stomach post comes right after the funeral post... Be well, enjoy the tea.

  2. About those knitting needles... just be very careful. They have ying/yang (not sure which one is the good/bad part) characteristics about them. The good part produces great and wonderful projects. The bad part....well, just read this blog entry of mine.
    I need to email you soon, Dorcas.

  3. You gave me a wonderful goog 'belly' laugh for the day.:) And I needed it too!

  4. Hi Dorcas. Actually Emily can have any tea she wants and here is how to decaffeinate it:
    Place whatever tea you choose into a warm teapot and cover with the hot water. Let brew for thirty seconds and then pour the water off completely. 98.6% of the caffeine will be in that water. Now pour fresh hot water over the tea and brew as usual. You will have naturally and virtually completely decaffeinated tea. By the way decaffeinated tea and coffee is only 98.6% decaffeinated, there is still a trace of caffeine even in that. Hope this will enlarge Emily's choices.

  5. I'm very sorry Emily has had a relapse. But a [good laugh] doeth good like a medicine. And I hope she gets better...this must be so difficult for all of you.

  6. Wow, Dorcas. You are one of the few people I've heard that actually has a good view on sympathy/advice. I pretty much totally agree with everything you said. Great thoughts.