A Friend in Need: Creating a Virtual Neighborhood

November 20, 2011
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When I heard that my colleague and friend, let’s call her Lila, had suffered a major health issue, I wanted to do more than send a card, which of course I did. I thought about Lila constantly and got updates from one friend, we’ll name her Marie, who was closest to her.

A few weeks later, Marie used email and Google calendar to arrange for friends to choose dates to  bring meals to Lila. With that gesture, I suddenly felt that I could not only would I pray for her full recovery, but in some small way participate in that miracle.

Going shopping for food, planning a meal with my husband Matt (yes he’s the real chef), and preparing nutritious food gave us a sense of purpose and contribution. Writing a love note to go with the offerings allowed me to again let Lila know how much we cared.  Driving the food to Lila’s home gave me the gift of peace that I was helping in some small way.

What’s ironic is that a few months earlier when Lila had heard that Matt had almost cut off his finger on a boat-remodeling project, she said we needed to make sure we had each other’s cell phone numbers.  She offered to be a “neighbor” several miles away who we could call if we needed assistance with anything.

I remembered that wonderful outreach when we were preparing meals for Lila. With busy work schedules, transient lifestyles, gated communities, and the loss of the front porch, we don’t always have neighbors who will give us a cup of sugar or a ride to urgent care.  We need our virtual neighborhood of friends who will be there for us in our time of need. Let’s double check that we have those emails and cell phone numbers programmed into our phones so that these dear friends can literally be our women on speed dial. Someone we can text our mess, direct tweet our defeat, or Facebook when we’re shook – and know that as soon as they see our message or hear our voice, they’ll help in any way they can.

I cherish the emails we received from Lila thanking us for caring for and about her. Knowing she’s recovering so well makes our hearts soar!  So, thank you Lila, for offering first to help us and allowing us to help you.  And kudos to Marie, who took the initiative to organize a wonderful cadre of friends who gave from their pantries and hearts.

–Diane

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