Some of our most important and profound words are said in doorways. Because someone is leaving, words spoken at the door are often more consequential, more weighty. Time is short and must not be frittered away. An entire evening may pass filled with light conversation and meandering stories until it’s time to say goodbye, and suddenly the flow of words gushes into the streambed of relevance.
In Just Show Up, Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn are standing in the door together, and this record of their words is raw and real. Kara, author of The Hardest Peace, writes from the perspective of a cancer patient in her final days. (Kara passed away in March 2015 shortly after the book’s completion.) Jill speaks as a close friend who has offered her hands and her heart in service to Kara and her family. What emerges from their shared writing is a chronicle of the painful, long good-by called cancer, many reassuring and sometimes humorous stories about the agony and the awkwardness of a friendship in which cancer is the unwanted third wheel, the helplessness of watching a dear friend suffer, and the need for both parties to put all pretense aside and fall into the rhythm of God’s choreography.
This pouring out of words about friendship and suffering would be enough if that was all that lived between the covers of Just Show Up — but it’s not, for in the way of showing up, Jill and Kara learned valuable and practical lessons about loving and saying goodbye:
- The uncomfortable dance of giving and receiving help can be relieved somewhat by clear communication. Being specific is key. For example, rather than vague “call-me-if-you-need-anything” statements, offer to grocery shop, to provide transportation to appointments, to assist children with school projects.
- When you provide a meal, use disposable dishes. Suggest that the family place a cooler on the front steps so that meals can be dropped off unobtrusively without impacting family time. Ask for guidelines on family food preferences and allergies.
- Don’t visit when you are sick!
- Put your giftedness at the family’s disposal. If you are a skilled photographer, offer to take pictures of the family. Put your organizational skills to work managing their mail or other details.
- Don’t become overwhelmed or neglect your own family responsibilities. If you add a caring role to your life, subtract something else to make room for it.
- Mourn the loss of your relationship as it used to be, but then find a new normal.
This book was provided by David C. Cook in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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