I got this little box of pens as a parting gift from my former office manager at the counselling clinic where I used to work.
This woman is an absolute gem of a human, and in the 5+ years I was there we grew quite fond of each other, often stopping to have meaningful conversations about life, relationships, and parenting. She loves people, and is more gracious in her interactions with folks than anyone I have ever met. She became a regular place of rooting and grounding in my life, and as a keen and intuitive observer was often aware of how I was doing by the way I walked past her into my office. We let each other into our lives, celebrating good things, caring about hard things, and keeping up with the day to day rhythms each of us had going. It was an absolute gift to work with her, and losing that relationship – or at least the built in regularity of it – was one of the hardest parts of leaving.
I stopped in to pick up my last cheque yesterday, and this little gift was waiting for me. Every part of me swelled up with delight when I unwrapped the paper and saw what it was. It was such a meaningful parting gift from someone I hold dear.
I know, they’re just pens.
But over the years I have developed a preference for this particular style of pens. And my office manager was always kind enough to keep buying my favourite writing tool. If there weren’t any in my office at the start of a session, there was surely a small stash by the time I was finished as I would scour the office, collecting a few to have on hand.
As a way to say goodbye she was kind and thoughtful enough to pick up something she knew I loved, something that was unique to me. And it served as a way to take a piece of her and our friendship with me to my new space. What I marvelled at the most, though, is how that little box of pens serves to remind me that I am both seen and known by this friend. She knows my preference for this particular brand of writing instrument. And more than that, she knows about my kids, knows about my family, and so often was keen to ask how things in my life were going. She let me into her life, too. And together we cared about each other.
One of my most meaningful memories with her came on a day I was both working and leaving early to write an exam for a course I was taking. I had started the day earlier than normal, was full of clients, and leaving early to write a 3 hour test. Before I left our satellite office, she had emailed to wish me courage and good luck. That she took the time to think of me and offer encouragement on a day where I was overwhelmed and stressed to the max was one of the most touching gestures.
Nobody remembered details of my life like that. Well…maybe my husband sometimes. But this friend is older, wiser, and functions a bit like a mom-figure in my life. There was something so special about her remembering me, something that communicated so much care. Her presence in my life has filled a spot that growing up, didn’t always get filled. My relationship with her was one that I looked at to learn from, and I am richer for knowing and being known by her.
This little box of pens reminded me that I am unique. And that I am seen, known, and loved.
Care doesn’t need to be extravagant to be meaningful. Sometimes it’s the little details that assure us that others know who we are, care about what matters to us, and take the time to remind us of that.
Consider how you can let those you love that you see and know them? Maybe it’s making your partner’s favourite supper, pulling out your kids favourite game, or sending your friend a link to a special song that you listened to on a roadtrip, or remembering the anniversary of a break up, loss, or death. How can you see your people, like, really see them and let them know that they are seen and known and loved today?