has surely to be the capacity and the willingness to listen. Sometimes it is all people need but how many of us recognise that?
It is hard to listen. It can be much easier to talk about ourselves. It is easier to talk about anything else at all if someone else we know and live, perhaps love, is in severe emotional distress. We do not want to know.
We may not mean to be selfish but we feel inadequate and uncomfortable. Displays of emotion are acutely embarrassing to us - and to them. They apologise to us because their distress embarrasses us - and that may cause them further distress. But, being there for someone and listening can be the difference between that someone giving up or being able to go on.
It takes time we are not always prepared to give. It takes emotional commitement we do not always wish to offer.
We had long time friends call in yesterday. Their current circumstances are appalling and there is nothing that can be done by their friends to rectify the situation. It has to be friends they rely on too because they are migrants and do not have family to rely on. I had been up since 4am and I had been working most of the day. I did not want the intrusion. I did not want to spend the time. I did not want to burdened yet again with their problems. I accepted the inevitable because it was inevitable. They needed us far more than my father and I needed a few hours to ourselves.
We sat and had pizza and listened and then listened some more. There were tears. They were very late leaving but seemed a little calmer than they were when they arrived. I was less worried that they would make it safely home than I had been they would arrive safely.
When they had gone the house seemed empty and even quieter than usual. My father and I had not said much all the time they were here. I put the last of the cutlery away and the pizza box out in the rubbish bin ready for tomorrow's collection. It started to rain again and I thought of our friends and the tears. They are going back to the waiting time that is the hardest sort of waiting of all. I was glad we could be there for them at least for a few short hours.
They needed to talk - and we needed to be silent.