I recently reached out to my friend Steve with whom I haven’t had contact in a few years. Steve is not a close friend. We met through a networking group. But we bonded. I really like him, and we did some business together over the years. We never hung out socially, but I do consider him to be a friend. Shame on me for not staying in touch. But this is not why I write today.
In response to my message, Steve mentioned that I happened to write on a bad day for him. Sadly, he had to put his dog down that day. What horrible news. Having been there before, I know that was not an easy task, and I was sorry for interrupting his grief. But he also mentioned something else. With his permission, I am quoting him here:
It is odd that you contacted me on the same day I had to put down my 8 year old Golden. It reminded me of the day 10 years ago when I announced that at a BNI meeting and being obviously distraught, you reached over and touched my arm, showing the empathy that is part of your DNA. It meant a lot to me.
Wow. I had no recollection of that moment. But I was so affected by the fact that he remembered it and that he reminded me of it. It really got me thinking. I wondered how often we affect others without even realizing it. My guess is that our lives are filled with trivial moments that may be memorable or meaningful to others – some favorable and others not. I was so grateful to learn about this favorable one.
From my view, I do not deserve any special recognition for the event. I am sure that I thought nothing of it at that time. Here was a friend in pain, in need of some love. So, I reached out, literally. It was just a touch of the arm. So simple. But clearly, human contact can go a long way. In this instance, a single touch lasted more than 10 years.
I don’t intend to turn this into a lesson or a lecture on civility (though many of us can use a reminder these days). I just hope that we will all take the opportunity to share a little love when we see that it is needed, not just in times of tragedy or loss. And when we are on the receiving end, I hope that we take the time to let the sender know it affected us, as Steve did to me 10 years later.
I am comforted to know that when I need it next, one of my friends or family will be there for me with some love. It might be a touch or a hug or just an ear. For Steve, mine was such a small thing. But I will not underestimate how much the small things matter.