When I started dating Scott in college, I had no idea that I would get a “package deal” that included his roommate, Jeff, and all of Scott’s Texas A&M Corps of Cadets buddies. Don’t get me wrong -- I loved the “package deal” and the guys were (and still are) the very best. But because of a teeny, tiny dorm room and NO cell phones (we are super old), sometimes those guys (especially Jeff) became an unwanted part of our relationship. Jeff loves to embarass Scott and tell the story of how Scott would get under the desk when talking to me on the phone. Scott swears he moved there to keep from disturbing Jeff. Jeff swears Scott moved there so he could sweet-talk me without anyone listening. But either way, Jeff ended up hearing on more than one occasion when Scott said those three little words, “I love you.” And although Scott wishes Jeff was not a part of those times, I’m pretty sure Jeff probably still laughs about it!
But my blog today is about three different little words -- I am sorry.
To catch up any readers who missed last week’s blog, Karen and I now live in Houston, but not too long ago, we lived in the Beaumont and Sour Lake areas. We experienced Hurricane Harvey last week but fortunately made it through with no damage and flooding. But we are the lucky ones. So many areas in Houston and in Texas were hard hit, and every house in my former neighborhood of Pinewood is devastated. You heard me -- EVERY HOUSE. And as of today, the water is still there making it impossible to begin the cleanup and recovery. Although the school itself is dry and undamaged, many of my former colleagues at Hardin Jefferson High School are now faced with flooded houses and cars and belongings. Beaumont is still without water, and friends are faced with a lack of groceries and supplies. Our hearts are truly breaking for our friends and any others impacted by the storm.
And we want to help. So we find opportunities to serve and sort and gather. We cut and clean and haul. We donate (again check out the organizations at the bottom of this blog that we recommend you give to) and pray and shop around to find the last refrigerator in stock at Home Depot. We offer to help in the future as friends return to their homes and face the devastation.
So here is the communication lesson for today -- as we are helping, we need to only use those three little words -- I am sorry. Please don’t say, “Well, you’re safe, and you can replace your things.” Please don’t say, “You can now have a brand new house!” Please don’t say, “I remember when I …” Just say those three little words -- I am sorry. And then be there to listen. Let the person share and validate all feelings. There will be sadness and happiness. There will be anger and resignation. There will be tears and laughter. And your job is to keep saying those three little words -- I am sorry. I didn’t lose my house or my car or my clothes or my pictures. I didn’t watch my house fill with water on videos taken by boats or drones or helicopters. I didn’t wonder where I would go or how I would get out. But many, many people out there did experience all of those things. So all I can say to you is -- I am sorry. And we will do our very best to help and support you as you work to recover and rebuild.
PS - And it never hurts to use those other three little words - so to all my friends - I love you!
Please communicate your care and support by giving to one of the following organizations:
Houston Food Bank
SPCA of Texas