Generosity: in 2 Syllables or Less

One evening, over dinner, the world collapsed around my ears.

I phoned my friend.

“I don’t think I’ll make it on Friday,” I whispered.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

“No,” I said.

“I’m coming to get you”, she said.

And so she did.


Came and got me.  Took me home.  Steered me to the car clutching a tootbrush and bottle of red wine.  Moved out of her room and bunked up with her daughter, so I could sleep in peace.

Gave me breakfast, soup, endless cups of tea.

Listened to me cry.  Left me to sit and stare.

Gave me comfort, refuge, home.

Gave me friendship, kindness, love.

Gave me the means to carry on.

Times have changed.  A decade has gone by.  Tables have turned.  Now she says “I’ll never be able to repay you”.

I laugh.  I’m still in her debt, and will always be.

Will always be grateful for that moment, that stretching out of the hand of friendship.  Changing not just the course of that 24 hours, but the way that I look at the world.

Showing me the universe, in the darkest of hours, in the brightest of colours.

Dancing in the generosity of others.

This post is my contribution to the Middle Zone group writing project What I Learned From the Generosity of Others.

If you want to take part too, you’re very welcome, but entries need to be in by Sunday evening.

It was also an exercise in writing with simplicity.  And saying thanks.

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  1. Lillie Ammann · · Reply

    This is a lovely tribute to your friend’s generosity and a wonderful example of writing with simplicity.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop: Second Visit to Father Jerry’s Jottings

  2. Debbie Yost · · Reply

    It is impressive how you have told such a touching story in such a simple way. Details aren’t needed. We don’t need to know all that happened to cause that call to feel the emotions. I think sometimes a story is better when a little mystery is left to the reader. It could take away from the true meaning of the story and you have handled that beautifully.

    Debbie Yosts last blog post..Are We Texting Away Our Compassion

  3. Ulla Hennig · · Reply

    lovely story! It’s great to have friends like yours. What would we do without them?

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..The Gift of Time

  4. Thanks again for such wonderful tips. The best blog of 2009 will be yours,
    Joanna Young…

    I agree about the two syllabes or less..

    TWO SYLLABLES and a good body language. haha..

    Enjoy your day.. Enjoy your blog.

  5. Cath Lawson · · Reply

    Hi Joanna - what a lovely story. It’s nice when folk do things for you then forget all about them. It makes it a heap more meaningful.

  6. Lillie, thank you very much for the feedback. It was a bit of a stretch for me, so it’s good to get the feedback.

    Debbie, thank you. I’m a very private person so I try not to share too much of my personal life online - but I do like to share something of ‘me’, if you know what I mean. I’m glad you liked this.

    Ulla, it is impossible to imagine life without them. I suppose in some ways it’s the hard times that show us how important friendship is, and how our survival depends on others.

    LuUeE, thank you very much for such positive feedback!

  7. Robyn McMaster · · Reply

    Quiet actions convey words of the heart!

    Robyn McMasters last blog post..Take Problem to Possibility

  8. It is a very touching story, Robert…

    Joanna, thanks for let Robert posted this lovely story :)

    wilsons last blog post..The Alternative Way to Reduce High Cholesterol Level!

  9. Robyn, indeed. Thanks for the simple-syllable comment :-)

    Wilson, I’m sorry that I managed to make this so confusing. This was actually my story, written for the project that Robert is organising. I know other people found it a bit muddling too - I think I spent too much time working on the story, and not enough on the explanation. Call myself a writing coach huh!

  10. Cath, sorry I jumped over your comment. Giving without thought for thanks or repayment is the best sort - though in some ways it comes so naturally and effortlessly I bet those who do it don’t feel it’s ‘giving’ at all. It’s just what you do when people need your help.

  11. Brad Shorr · · Reply

    Joanna, What a moving, tender story. You have the heart of a poet … “Dancing in the generosity of others.” Beautiful.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Today Is Cell Abuse Blog Contest Deadline

  12. Kristen King · · Reply

    Joanna, this is just beautiful. Touching and poignant and just lovely. Thanks for sharing it.


    Kristen Kings last blog post..Recommended Reading: Blogs and Business

  13. Karen Wallace · · Reply

    “Showing me the universe, in the darkest of hours, in the brightest of colours”. This is what you do for me, Joanna. Thanks for shaing this beautiful, powerful story.

    Sometimes the true measure of friends can only been seen glowing on the darkest of nights.

    Karen Wallaces last blog post..Sound Space: Matty Cornell

  14. Brad, thanks so much! I only occasionally write poetry but I do enjoy the form that I call prose poetry… it’s good when the words come out like that (quite of their own accord!)

    Kristen, hi! Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.

    Karen, hello you :-) Thanks for those words, beautifully written as always. It’s so true about the friends in need point - and that the ties we make in those dark hours will have a different quality about them. Even if our paths go off in different directions the feeling will stay forever.

  15. Middle Zone Musings » All Entries: What I Learned From the Generosity of Others · · Reply

    [...] Generosity: in 2 Syllables or Less, by Joanna Young at Confident Writing [...]

  16. Karen Swim · · Reply

    Joanna, this was beautiful. The simplicity added to the power. There was so much emotion between the lines, that it gripped my heart. You also managed to carry over the lesson of experimenting, bring in the current them of simplicity and tie it to generosity! Impressive!

    Karen Swims last blog post..What I Learned from the Generosity of Strangers

  17. Robert Hruzek · · Reply

    Wonderfully innovative concept, Joanna! And such an imaginative way to tell it, too. It’s amazing how much can be said with just a few simple words, isn’t it?

    Thanks for contributing to this month’s project, Joanna!


    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..All Entries: What I Learned From the Generosity of Others

  18. Simple often works in very complicated matters. It strips away the unneeded and gives sharp focus to what is important.

    Bos last blog post..Snowman, Oh, Pardon Me!…Snowlady!

  19. Karen, I love how you pay such close attention to my themes. Thank you for noticing what I’d tried to do here. You’re such a wonderful commenter, really you are.

    Robert, yes, sometimes for me anyway, “simple” is needed when the things are really big. This was a project that drew some powerful writing out of lots of us - thanks for organising it

    Bo: yes, that’s it in a nutshell. “It strips away the unneeded and gives sharp focus to what is important.”

  20. My oh My, I’m sorry for making the big mistake, Joanna! Honestly, what’d happened to you, when your friend heading to your home, Joanna? (I’m just a little bit busybody here lol)

    wilsons last blog post..The Alternative Way to Reduce High Cholesterol Level!

  21. Wilson, it was my mistake. I didn’t make it clear enough. As to what happened… that’s a story for another day :-)

  22. Middle Zone Musings » What I Learned From 2008 - Joanna Young · · Reply

    [...] last WILF of the year was generosity in 2 syllables or less.  It was a reflection on a significant moment in my life, and also (another) reminder that I enjoy [...]

  23. Tabetha · · Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Joanna. I have a feeling this post took more than pen and paper to write. Your heart is wrapped up in it. :)

    I think not giving the specific circumstance helped each individual to fill in the blank with their own circumstance and realize what an awesome friend you had to take you in and know exactly what you needed!

    Thanks so much for sharing from the heart! God bless you!

    Tabethas last blog post..Ten Inches Shorter

  24. Tabetha, thank you for paying such attention to this piece. Your comments are most perceptive. I din’t want to share the details… but I did want to share what she did for me, and what it meant.

    Thank you.

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