“If you need anything, let me know,” a good friend said after telling her about my dad’s recent diagnosis. “Do you need anything?” another friend asked later that day.
“I’d love a hug,” I said in response. As news of my dad’s illness spreads, I keep hearing the question in different forms.
- What do you need?
- Can I do anything for you?
- Let me know what you need.
“What do I need?” I ask myself in the quiet hours when no one else is around. When was the last time you asked yourself that question?
What Do I Need?
At a minimum, I need air, water, and food. What comes next? Perhaps shelter, sleep, safety, and good health?
If I asked you what you need right now, how would you answer?
Would you create a list of tangible objects, perhaps school supplies for your kids’ first day of school or groceries to prepare tonight’s dinner?
What thoughts first come to mind?
What Do I Need Now?
Our needs aren’t always the same. Some days I need solitude and tranquility; other days, I need excitement and unpredictability.
If a genie could grant my wish, I’d say I need more time with my dad, but I’m not sure if that’s an option.
I suppose I need hope that my dad’s health won’t diminish too quickly. With enough hope, I’d wish for a miracle that could heal him.
I need the courage to face obstacles that stand before me. I also need a healthy dose of kindness, compassion, and empathy from those who know what I’m going through.
What Do I Need In My Life?
A good friend of mine called last week. She left a voicemail saying, “I’m thinking of you, but you don’t need to call me back.” I was thankful for her message and relieved that I wasn’t obligated at that moment to respond. I needed to hear her voice even if I wasn’t ready to talk.
I needed to know others were thinking about me and sending their positive thoughts into the universe.
Another friend called a few days later, “I wanted to talk to you on the phone,” she said, “this was too important for a text.” I was grateful for her call because I needed to talk about my thoughts and concerns. I needed someone to listen.
When friends, former coworkers, and readers sent emails and left comments, I relished their words. I’m particularly grateful for those who shared stories about their parents. I needed to know I wasn’t alone.
I needed to sleep at four o’clock this morning, but my mind decided to race with dizzying thoughts instead.
I also need light and levity at a time when the world feels dark. The best sound is the giggles that come from my kids.
When friends ask, “what do you need?” They are typically talking about tangible items. They offer to bring over a meal, mow my yard, or pick up groceries from the store.
Sometimes we need those gifts. Without a neighbor’s casserole, we might not eat dinner. Without a gift basket full of fruit, we might not feed our kids healthy snacks.
But I’m thankful right now for all of the non-tangible gifts I’ve received over the past few weeks. Hope, companionship, friendship, empathy, and kindness fill my heart.
Once we have enough money to fill our basic needs, we often think about the other stuff we want and need in our lives. The things we think we need to be happy.
The line between needs and wants often blurs. We think we need a new iPhone, a wallet full of cash, and the biggest house on the block.
Moments like this one remind me that things aren’t necessary. What I need can’t be purchased online or shipped in a box to my door.
What Do You Need?
What do you need in your life right now?