Diary Extract Give and Be Given

From Alice’s diary:

When I was four years old, I saw my mother crying, she was really sobbing. When she saw me watching her, she cried, “Oh, Alice” and held out her arms. I went to her and said, “I will make you better.” She said, “Yes, you will.”

 A four-year-old thinks a hug makes things better; grown ups know it doesn’t work like that. But in stepping into her embrace, I stepped into my future. That four-year-old had no idea what lifelong responsibility she had just agreed to.

I do for others. Not just say, I do. I try to make things better. When I am able, I make things better. I do not regret being a person who does this. But I do sometimes, awake at night in my loneliness, wonder will anyone ever do for me?

I rarely ask for comfort. My mother didn’t ask for comfort that day; she needed and I gave. That’s what I learned. But I am waiting to be given. And on the rare times I’ve asked, I feel I’ve been let down. So I won’t ask anymore. I will do my best not only not expect it, but to try not to want it. Is that possible? Maybe. Is it how I wanted my life to be?



If Only We Had Known

One thing many people who knew Alice told me was that they wish they had known she was struggling. They seem to believe that if they had known, they could have done something to help her. If they had known, they would have comforted her.

We can’t be sure if this is true.

But what we can be sure of is that we don’t always know when people are struggling. Perhaps we should offer help and comfort even without “knowing.” Someone close to you, someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, someone at your workplace, someone sitting on your bus might be struggling as Alice struggled. Why not offer them help or comfort now? Why wait until it’s “too late,” until you find yourself saying “If only I had known”?