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Column

Support matters

I have to admit the whole purpose of this column is to tell you about my new pillow. It's amazing. It's a U-shaped body pillow originally designed for pregnancy, but it is touted as good for sciatica as well. That's where I come in — the sciatica part.

Why would I write about my pillow — other than the fact that I love it and had an amazing nap and a great night's sleep without tossing and turning? Did I tell you I love it? It's like sleeping in a hug.

As I was lying in bed, drifting off without the need for electronics for once to keep me occupied while I tried to get to sleep, I started thinking about how a great pillow can be a metaphor for life.

Humans don't do well without support. Even those of us who, as professed introverts, really do like being alone a lot of the time. There are still times when help is needed. Just like my new pillow helps support my back and knees so I can sleep without pain.

Support comes in many forms. I'm used to being the one giving the support, but there have been times in my life when I needed to be on the receiving end. Some times when I got the support and others when I didn't. I can tell you right now which times I was able to get myself back together the quickest.

I remember when my son was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. I was alone in a strange town we had just moved to and Chris was out to sea. Those words really knocked me for a loop and I didn't have anyone nearby to talk to. Fast forward a few years to a need for surgery and then his second major diagnosis of epilepsy: we had moved again in the meantime, but I had time to make friends and get involved with a wonderful church family — and Chris was on shore duty, which meant he was home every night.

That one was tough, but the support I received made all the difference in how I was able to deal with the situation.

Don't smother me

My new amazing pillow has a benefit I wasn't expecting. Since I sleep on my side or stomach, for years I have slept with my hand on the pillow either under my face or just in front to keep the pillow from squishing up so I can't breathe. Somehow this one is exactly the right amount of soft to be comfortable, but not so soft you sink in and it surrounds your whole face.

It doesn't smother me.

How great of a metaphor for a friend is that? A true, supportive friend lets you be you, helping you in your endeavors — sleep in this case — without putting themselves in the way. Maybe your dreams aren't the same as theirs or you just see the world a little differently. That's OK. Learning to see from someone else's perspective is a hallmark of growing up and being a good friend and person.

It's not all about me. I can hold you up without stifling your creativity — come to think of it that's a pretty great plan for parenting too. But we'll get into that another day.

Be present

Since my new, fabulous pillow is U-shaped and I can hold onto it, it stays put and doesn't work its way down into the crack between the headboard and mattress.

How many "friends" have disappeared into a crack somewhere just when you needed them most?

Not the real ones.

Hard times have a way of bringing out the truth of who is really a friend and who is not. True friends stick by you. They pop by to see if you are OK or send you a text to lift you up in the middle of the day.

It's kind of hard to support someone if you aren't there, present in their life. In this day and age, you don't even always have to be physically present — the metaphor doesn't work here, pillows don't really help from down behind your bed. Skype and Zoom and texting and good, old-fashioned phone calls can keep you in touch. You can even send a meal to someone far away by using Door Dash or Uber Eats — well, not in Creston.

What's the take away here? Be a great pillow for those you love: be there for them without suffocating them. Support them. And gather some comfy pillows around yourself. You need support, too. It matters.

•••

Let me know what matters to you at rsmith@crestonnews.com, 641-782-2141 ext. 6433, or c/o Creston News Advertiser, 503 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801.

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