Her name was Ellen and she brought me dinner.

The parish nurse at our church has organized volunteers to bring over dinner a few times a week, and Ellen’s day was Tuesday. She came to the door with a roast chicken, a salad from her garden, and a loaf of nine-grain bread. We chatted awhile, she asked how I was doing, and I replied that while my body felt fine, my head is another story. That we are all still in shock and I just don’t feel like myself.

Ellen said she knew how I felt, having been diagnosed with diabetes in February. As we talked more about the challenges of special diets it hit me: Here’s a woman (like me), with kids (like me), with a chronic health condition (like me), who, on a day she took off of work, is bringing me dinner.

Talk about humbling. But really, what good is a crisis without being taken down a peg or two?

When something bad or sad or scary or just hard happens to someone you love, or even someone you know just a little, the urge to help is strong. I know that this is true. I’ve been inundated with offers of help, and my own instinct when I hear of someone else’s crisis is to start cooking, preferably pasta with some kind of cheese- or cream-based sauce. (Those were the days, but that’s another post.) It’s one of the best things about human beings, and no matter how cynical things may seem, it’s alive and well. The better angels of our nature are with us still.

This isn’t my first life crisis, and it probably won’t be my last. Having learned a thing or two the first time around (the birth of my first baby nine weeks early by emergency c-section after I developed a life-threatening-for both of us-condition), I readily said yes to every offer of help I have received, and then asked for more. I’ve been clear about what we need, and what we don’t. I’ve let friends see my house a mess. I’ve sat at my own kitchen table and watched someone else cook for my family. I’ve asked for favors I wouldn’t dream of asking at any other time. And I haven’t even sent my thank yous.

But I have noticed and I will remember. I was helped in innumerable ways then. I’m being helped now. I’ll be helped again tomorrow. I can’t do this alone, and I don’t intend to try.

So, to Ellen and everyone who brought us dinner, took care of our children, provided transportation, bought groceries, supervised walks, hosted parties, cooked, cleaned, folded, shopped, played, emailed, wrote, and listened:

Thanks, I needed that.