It’s been about three months since I’ve seen my dad. My brother gave me a heads up last week that he thought dad was slowing down. Sleeping more, eating less, not sick, just wearing out. Since I was going up to northern VA, i took time one morning to drive about 2 hours to see him.
My brother was right. Dad was different. There but not really there. I could only keep him awake for about five minutes at a time. I showed him pictures of the great-grandkids, read with him, drew a picture on his white board, but he quickly dozed off each time. So my visit became more of me just being there. Ironically, that’s all dad could do, too. Just be there.
I thought a lot about that on my way home. Is just “being there” a good thing or a bad thing? We spend a lot of time telling people in the church and community, “Don’t just sit there; do something!” Yet there are times when simply being present is not just meaningful, but is everything.
I’ve heard some describe this as “ministry of presence.” Maybe there’s not much you can do. There aren’t any profound words to speak. There’s nothing you can bring. But you can be there.
You can be there when your child looks up in the stands or out into the crowd. You can be there when someone comes home. Or when it’s time for them to leave. You can be there when they open their eyes. Or when they close them (maybe for the last time).
You can be there because it’s not good to be alone (you or them).