At the end of middle school a girl Ashlyn went to school with moved out of state. She was Ashlyn’s peer support, a student chosen to help her during the day, but also her friend. When she moved away we were both sad to see her go.
The girls soon developed a routine of talking on Sunday afternoons. Ashlyn’s friend called every Sunday and listened to her talk about her week. Before letting her go she would tell Ashlyn what time they could talk the next week, knowing Ashlyn counted on routine. Sometimes they talked for an hour, sometimes they talked for 15 minutes.
It’s been five years and nothing has changed. Hers is the one call Ashlyn counts on every week. When Ashlyn is upset I can often distract her by asking what they talked about last Sunday or what time they are talking this Sunday. Every Saturday, Ashlyn anticipates the call the next day with the same excitement as she did their first call and their twentieth.
To her friend, their Sunday call is just 15 minutes of her week but to Ashlyn it’s so much more. To me it’s so much more.
Last week, as bad news after bad news filled the media, I asked people on my Facebook page to share acts of kindness that helped keep their faith in humanity and there were such great stories. From husbands who left early to take out their neighbors trash to a teenager who tied an elderly man’s shoe, what struck me most about the stories were how simple they were.
People giving their 15 minutes and changing someone else’s day or week or year.
It made me reevaluate how I spend my own time and whether enough of it is dedicated to giving without expectation. Do I offer enough 15 minutes? Do I take the time to see who might need it?
I’m not sure I do.
There’s so much rushing and sighing and repeating that I’m not sure I give extra of myself to anyone who isn’t banging on the bathroom door or spilling their mac-n-cheese. I need to look around more and maybe we all do.
Maybe the only way to help our children grow up without riots and overwhelming suicide rates and awful prejudices is for all of us to give our 15 minutes and not expect them back. Maybe you already are, maybe you call someone every Sunday and you have no idea how happy it makes them.
I know I give when there is need right in front of me but maybe we should all start looking harder for who might need us.
The 15 minutes we can give might be what gets someone else through the next.
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