At every life event, good or bad, my people show up. It may not be everyone each time and it may not look exactly as I imagined, but someone is there. In fact, it’s usually a whole lot of people. Some are family, some are friends, but at this point, those lines are pretty blurry. They’re truly my people.

  • When I got married way back when, they came en masse. A “small” wedding meant 150 people–and we didn’t have a small wedding.
  • For my 25th birthday, my (now ex) husband threw me a surprise party. It was so well attended–and fun!–that it turned into an annual fall party/bonfire for several subsequent years.
  • I’m embarrassed to tell you how many baby showers I’ve had, and I only have two kids.
  • The day my marriage fell apart, my oldest and dearest friend said simply, “I’m coming,” no questions, no discussion. She stayed for three days.
  • I declined the instant, no-questions-asked offer from a friend to jump on a plane and come help me deal with a crisis during my kids’ middle school years, but the offer itself was enough.
  • A high school teacher-turned-friend agreed without hesitation to help one of my kids build confidence in an academic subject. They met for hours and hours that semester, and though I would have happily paid for tutoring, she did it as a labor of love.
  • My brother, who lives on the other side of the country, detoured from a work trip to surprise my daughter at her high school graduation.
  • In planning an event to celebrate someone close to me, one of my friends sent a text immediately upon receiving the invitation, asking what she could do to help. My parents have offered their assistance at least 6,574 times. They are only connected to the guest of honor through me.

At every life event, in every crisis, I know that if I ask, my people will show up. Most of the time, I don’t even need to ask. The associative property (for all you math geeks) applies, too. They come for my kids, my boyfriend, even my causes.

I’ve always assumed this is just the way the world works, but I’ve discovered that even at fifty-something, a person–this person, specifically–can be naive. The more I observe other people’s people, the more I see that showing up is a big deal. Not everyone does it, and not everyone enjoys that gift. And it IS a gift.

A friend with several siblings has lived away from her hometown for decades. It’s not that far, a roundtrip drive can be done in a day, but this big family that celebrates every holiday and milestone together in their hometown apparently doesn’t travel. My friend can count on one hand–in many cases on one finger–how many times family members have showed up for her events. One finger. Decades. I can’t even.

A few years ago I found out another friend had been seriously injured in an accident. The phone call came hours after my hysterectomy when I lay in my own hospital bed; I was devastated I couldn’t go to her. Looking back, I’m just as devastated that no one else went either.

As I’ve gotten to know my brother’s fiancee, I’ve found myself having to explain situations I didn’t realize I had taken for granted. She doesn’t share the same family experience. Things that just are for me, well, just aren’t for her.

Showing up is a gift.

If you’ve been given this gift, give it back. Nurture your relationships. Give them the love and respect they deserve. Show up. You’ll be glad you did.

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