225. A Friend

I have a friend named Emily who, at the time I’m writing this, is eight years old. Her father has one kind of chronic neurological disease, and I have another kind. She plans to learn about pills so that she can mix some pills together and cure us. I could spend time talking with her about the dangers of putting too much faith in pills. Pills have caused a lot of problems. I could spend time trying to make her aware that pills are only one category of approach to healing, and that there are many other categories of approaches that may work better. I could try to give her an idea of how complicated medical science can be.
But not now. For now I’d like to concentrate on the feeling behind her plan. If I read her correctly, she cares a lot about her father and me – enough to want to spend time and energy trying to make us healthy. It’s not really her job. She’s got her own life to think about. Children need to know that adults’ problems are mainly for adults to deal with. Besides, just between you and me, I suspect that she will end up having other priorities, and not doing a lot of research about neurological problems. She’s a poet, an actress, a dancer, an artist, a musician, and many other things. There’s only so much one person can do in one life. But you never know.
That’s not my point, though. It’s all right if she doesn’t become an immunologist, neurologist, herbalist, or some other kind of healer, if any, who solves our particular problems. My point is that children, who are so often the objects of our caring, also do a lot of caring themselves. And because they are so often unskilled at hiding feelings, or faking them, it can be pretty special to hear about a child’s caring. It can remind us that caring is natural – not just something people do because they’re supposed to, or because there’s something in it for them.
I don’t mean to take anything away from the adults who care; their attempts to help are often just as sincere, and often more practical. Some of them do some of the research that may eventually lead to solutions to our problems. Caring alone, though it has a very moving and healing effect on our psyches, may not have much of an impact- on our somas. At least I don’t think so yet.
But when my eight year old friend told me that she intends to keep experimenting with pills, mixing them together until she finds a cure for the diseases that make life difficult for two people who are important to her, I didn’t immediately say the words she soon needs to hear, about the dangers of experimenting with pills. I know her parents, and I’m sure they’ll talk with her about that. What I did was tell her how good it felt to know she cared so much about me, and later, go home and write this article in her honor.

Comments are closed.