Important People

October 12, 2009

Who are the important people in your life?  Your spouse, children, parents, close friends?  Are these the people you turn to when you have great news, a problem, when you feel lonely?  Do they make you feel needed, connected, valued?  What if most of the important people in your life were your employees?  Do you think the relationships would be the same?  Most of the important people in Lauren's life are employed by her - caregivers.  The important people in her life, the people she interacts with daily, the people who know what makes her laugh, and what makes her sad, are, primarily, her parents and three staff members.

She has extended family members.  But, they're busy, they don't see her often, they don't know her well.  There are the people she interacts with in the community, they may know her name, they may know she likes music, but they don't know much else about her.  There are her parent's friends, they know her history, they know her fondness for turtles, but they don't know she's left-handed or loves to eat fish with tartar sauce.  Over the years there have been other people who drifted into her life, but they would suddenly just disappear, without warning, like a snowflake on the palm of your hand.  They may have thought it didn't matter.  They may have thought Lauren wouldn't know the difference.  But, she did.  Lauren was sad when you left, when you never said goodbye, when she found out that you really weren't her friend.

Lauren can't reach out the way you or I can.  She can't ask you how your day was.  She can't help you decide what to wear on a first date or give you advice about your mother-in-law.  She can't call you up just to chat.  If people don't seek her out, make time for her, or include her in their lives, they will never become important people in her life.  And, they don't.  We once tried to start a circle of support for Lauren.  A few people came to the first meeting, some said they would and didn't, and I couldn't get anyone to commit to a second meeting.  I'm not going to beg people to be my child's friend.  I asked, I baked cookies, they were polite, and then they faded away.

People have very full lives.  I get that. So is mine.  They are not motivated to give of themselves to a young woman who appears as though she would have nothing to give back to them.  But, they are wrong.  It takes time, it takes understanding, but Lauren has much to give.  She is a great listener, she has strong opinions, she loves a good laugh, and she is loyal.  They don't know what they are missing.  They don't know that their lives would be richer if Lauren was an important person in their lives.

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