- Be a friend... Watch someone you care about lose a parent, knowing only time can heal that wound and that even then, things will never be the same.
- Be a teacher... Sign off on medical leave for not one, but two of the brightest and kindest students you've ever met. They never thought they could get that sick. You didn't either.
- Be a mom... This is the hardest one of all. The need is in front of you 24/7. You can't make biology exams easier. You can't make the ball go in the goal. And you definitely can't heal a hurting heart.
So what's a friend-teacher-mom to do?
- Wish for a magic wand that would make it all better. You won't get one, of course, but nothing is lost by dreaming of a brighter, more cheerful world.
- Once you start dreaming of that world, do what you can to make it happen. Heaven on earth is this, that we bring joy into situations where it seems impossible.
- If you can't bring joy, you can still bring yourself. As it is written in Ecclesiastes, there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." Your friends, your students, your family need you in all the seasons of their lives. Presence beats presents every time.
Finally, don't forget that to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. Eat chocolate. Listen to your favorite song, fifty times in a row if that's what it takes. Take a nap. Run five miles. Sing at the top of your lungs. Pet your cat. And meditate. Learn to sit quietly with feelings. They are a gift, meant to be experienced fully, in good times and in bad.
It may be hard right now. It is for me. But remember this: we will not always be in a time of highs and lows. After all, Ecclesiastes also says that everything will be made beautiful in its time.