I met up with my aunt Ravani recently, and we spent the day catching up on family news, what’s been going on in each other’s lives and a little of this and that.
Mostly, we spoke of the past. My father died when I was 5, and speaking of him was a taboo in my family, and my mother passed away nearly 4 years ago.
We talked about my memories of my father dying, shared laughs over my mother’s quirks, such as her obsession with chocolate-covered jelly rings (I actually believe these are the same ones she used to buy, the box looks familiar enough), and other such things.
One thing she said about my mother really stuck with me. She related the tale of how she called my mother one day, just needing a shoulder to cry on, and my mother listened and told her that she didn’t know what to say or do, but that’s all my aunt needed – someone to listen, someone who wouldn’t give advice.
I like to think I do a pretty good job listening to people, but I know I can be better. Instead of offering suggestions, I should just step back and go, “What can I do?”
Sometimes all a person needs is a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to vent to. A sounding board, so to speak. We have the thoughts and decisions in our mind, but we just need to work it out for ourselves, and verbalizing that to someone, a friend, a sibling, a stranger, can help us reach that decision.
These thoughts and words aren’t particularly profound or original, but I think they are something we can, and should, follow. We are too quick to form an opinion based off a casual conversation, or too willing to offer advice when someone just needs a friend.
I miss my mother, my friend. We weren’t always close growing up, but we became closer once I became an adult and lived a little (a lot). I knew I could tell her just about anything, she wouldn’t always approve, but she trusted me to live my life how I saw fit. If I made mistakes, I learned from them.
Next time someone comes to you with a heavy heart, don’t offer advice – just listen. Sometimes that can be all anyone needs.