Stepping Up When Big Deal Things Happen

Stepping Up When Big Deal Things Happen September 30, 2019

Happy Monday! Happy Fall! Happy Quiet, Rainy, Overcast, Snuggly Day.


How are you?


I’ve been cooking a few things over in my mind that I’ve wanted to talk about, but just kept putting it off. I have work to get done, laundry to finish, jewelry orders to catch up on, people to care for, pets to feed and snuggle.. and I’ve just put talking about the stuff that I’m thinking about on the back burner.

I just. I’m so tired of things being hard. I talked to Khaled about it and he summed up my feelings by saying it was like I’m a square peg in a round hole. Or, was it a round peg in a square hole? I fill up a lot of the space, but I don’t really fit. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure I fit even that much. Maybe a triangle in a round hole?

What started this exhaustion earlier this year was that I had to have a pretty major surgery. It’s difficult to really wrap my head around and I’ve been sitting with these feelings since then. I’ve been dealing with this medical issue for the better part of my life, and have periodically had to have major surgeries to keep things working smoothly. So, after 5 times, you’d think it would be a ‘No Big Deal’ event for me. But it is. It is a big event and being in my later 40’s, it really felt like a Big Deal.

A card I received in the mail from Magda’s mother. Her thoughtfulness made a big difference.

The thing that kicked this off was the lack of real support in my life. I’m not talking about inside my house, because my house is tight. I’m talking about the concentric circles of people in my life. The family that lives outside my house. The people that I talk to every day. The next door neighbor that I’ve shared deep, private struggles with. The friends that I would call to check in on in an emergency. The people with whom I work. The people that Khaled has worked with for over 17 years. The people that my kids pray with every week, and I have seen outside of the Masjid. The people in our religious community.

We had 2 people step up and give us support. 2 people knew we needed more than we could ask for.

Out of all of the 100’s of hours we spend with All of These Other People, 2 just showed up.

I remember talking with my grandmother off and on throughout my life and she would sometimes mention that she was visiting a friend who was in the hospital, or someone was recovering at home and she was taking over a casserole to help them. Very early on in my marriage I had a miscarriage and my step-sister brought over dinner and a pot of mini roses. Deep in grief, I took it for granted that she was reaching out to comfort us.

I know for sure that I’ve missed being a support to someone in need. I try to respect the wishes of my family members who are grieving and when someone says they don’t need help when I offer, I trust that they are telling me the truth. But am I doing them a disservice by offering? Maybe when I see someone struggling with something I should just show up. Maybe they can’t ask for help? I don’t have any answers.

Sometimes I feel like this is a side effect of living a life that doesn’t really, totally fit. If I was an accepted part of the Muslim community, would they have reached out to me when I didn’t show up for Jummah for weeks? When I was part of a church community, I know that the pastor and his staff made sure they visited the sick, they called people who were missing from service and there was a network of families that stepped up when someone was having difficulties. I miss that.

Have the choices I’ve made alienated those people in the concentric circles of my life? Is this a product of my generation? When I hit a wall of not understanding, I reach out to my parenting group on Facebook to ask.

My Question: “I’m looking for some data. If someone in your family (not living with you) or a close friend is having a medical event, what kinds of support do you offer?”

Here are some of the responses:

  • Food, childcare, lawn care, listening ears without advice.

  • This and Starbucks gift cards or gas cards if they are in the hospital a lot of traveling a lot for care.

  • It really depends on the person. I have offered to be there, to provide transportation for the patient and/or visitors, to provide food, to provide gift cards for food, to be there for escapist conversation/entertainment.

  • I went to my business partner’s house before she came home from the hospital with her mother and filled her fridge with prepared foods – rotisserie chicken and cooked veggies and prepared mac and cheese and other easy to eat already prepared things, plus eggs, milk and other staples and left flowers. That was a HUGE hit.

  • Food, visits, text chat with or without medical info dumping (either way), research (someone offering to research something for me was one of the most lovingly-cared-for experiences in my life), caregiver respite (people taking over being with me for a few hours), money to help other people visit (including filling Uber accounts, etc.), labeling/dating food that has been provided, stopping by just to take out trash/check TP stock if they are getting lots of visitors.

  • Like others, it really depends on the person, the event, the distance, and the kind of support they need. At a minimum, flowers and emails/ texts/ calls of support. If close-by, grocery shopping, visits, childcare, shoulder to cry on.

  • I’ve made meals for people in town, I’ve also given food gift cards and other things. In our town, there’s usually someone who sets up a signup and we all help out.

The thing I found, was that what I needed, people give. Just not the people in my life. I’m a frequent user of the Perfect Potluck website, so I get their emails. One I received earlier this year was so perfectly on this exact topic, I shared it on social media in April.

I just read this in my email as I'm a frequent contributor on Perfect Potluck. ***************"I just started a batch…

Posted by Kristina ElSayed on Tuesday, April 23, 2019


How is it for you?

I’m going to work hard at doing better. Being the change I want to see in the world. Showing up and letting my kids see me show up. Making food for people who need support. Sending cards in the mail. Going that extra mile. Offering to run errands, pick up something from Costco or Meijer. Drop off some brownies just because. I want to make a ripple effect. I’m hoping to make a change.

About Kristina ElSayed
-2013 Brass Crescent Award Winning writer for My Islamic Life. -Creator of The Wudu Cling, an educational tool for American Muslim Converts and Children. -Owner and Designer, Kristina ElSayed Jewelry, Sylvania, Ohio. -Native Toledoan, non-Muslim wife, and mother of 3 Muslim children. You can read more about the author here.

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