“Try a little tenderness” ~ Otis Redding
Or, as defined by my dictionary
Tenderness (n): gentleness and kindness; kindliness
I came home from a couple of nights away to find a box of Bloom & Wild flowers waiting in my hall. If you don’t know Bloom & Wild then let me explain that they send their blooms in a box in nets, it’s a manner designed to keep them fresh. They had been sent to me by, let’s call them a society, who knew about the time I had been having and wanted to send me a hug.
I didn’t even wait to take my coat off before I carefully unwrapped each bloom, trimmed their stems, and arranged them in water so they could perk up after their time in my hallway. Such a beautiful and caring gesture, they are brightening my mood every time I look at them.
Like the flowers needing to be freed from their nets and put in the water, we all need the right environment in order to thrive. And that is why I took myself away to Budapest. If my trip had not have been booked and paid for I would’ve travelled back to Derbyshire to spend time with Mum in hospital. But I was assured by my siblings that things were in hand and to go and take the break while I could.
So I walked and I drank and I took plenty of photos. I switched off from checking social media and I allowed myself to have time that wasn’t posting hospital updates, that wasn’t about the negatives. I gave myself that time to remember that even in hard times it is still ok to laugh, it is allowed and indeed necessary to enjoy the good things in life. And as I eventually ended up in an outdoor rooftop spa in almost freezing temperatures, I felt something in me unfurl, just like the flowers I was later sent, I, too, had needed a change in my environment.
As I have been writing this, I have been told that my family are breaking Mum out the hospital again. She is being signed out, we aren’t indulging in Mother-rustling, but it is just so much easier for us to take her home than to rely on the hospital transport system.
Mum has been in a hospital a lot this year. There have been strong medical changes in how her MS is being managed and they have been hard on her and all of us. But her time there recently has also been eased by some of her regular carers coming in; showering her, sitting with her, spending time doing the crossword and the newspaper quizzes. The little elements of care that make it easier on Mum and by extension the family, the care that nurses understandably cannot provide, but that make her time there so much more bearable.
Hopefully these latest adjustments, this latest change to her environment, will mean she can be home for longer, that she spends Christmas with her family, that she has time to enjoy, in as much as can be, life as the new normal.
It’s her birthday soon. Presents will be focused on things with a pleasing scent, something soft to touch, audiobooks she will enjoy hearing. It’s the smallest of care but it’s what we can do. That, and time. Time spent with Mum, enjoying every moment there is.
And so I turn to you, dear reader, to return to theme of this blog; tenderness. Life in so many ways, for so many people, is hard right now. Maybe you are one of those people. And so I urge you to treat yourself with the tenderness you would show to a dear friend, to an adored lover. What ever gestures of kindness you can show yourself please do it. You are too important to neglect.
And if perhaps you are doing ok, perhaps you could call a friend, send a message, write a letter. We all need our friends, our loves, our support networks; sometimes to lean on and sometimes be leant on.
Either way, the world needs more tenderness right now. I believe Nayirah Waheed says it best with these lines: