I believe in the Tuesday call.
When someone is ill or dies, there is so much we can offer–the quick hug, the compassionate touch of a hand on an arm, the sympathy card. The Tuesday call is that expression of care and compassion delivered, every week, for an entire year.
I first heard of the Tuesday call when I asked my sister-in-law what had helped the most when her husband died unexpectedly, leaving three children under the age of 8 behind. Every Tuesday, she said, a friend of theirs had called to check in. Think of it: He called every week. For an entire year. “Whether I answered the phone or not didn’t matter,” she said. “I knew I could count on, ‘Jane? This is Lee. It’s Tuesday. How is today going?”‘ It was, she said, a lifeline.
I think that concrete, everyday quality is one key to the power of the Tuesday call. It doesn’t rely on the broader, often hard to answer, “How are you?” Instead, it offers the smaller, more manageable, “How are things right now?” Right now, right this minute, at 2:15 on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, what are you doing? What’s on your mind? And it comes week in, week out, through the ebb and flow of that first hard year.
I wish I were wise enough to have thought of the Tuesday call myself. I’m not. But I heard the relief in Jane’s voice, and I filed the Tuesday call away in the back of my mind.
And then the day came when I needed to put it into action. All seemed to be going well with a close friend’s pregnancy. But at 7 months, the baby died. So there was a stillbirth. And, as happens sometimes, there was no clear medical explanation, nothing to pin it on. Instead, she was left with an unsolvable mystery along with the unbearable heartbreak.
After the initial tidal wave of shock and grief had subsided, I called her and said, “Let me tell you about the Tuesday call.” And then, for 52 Tuesdays, I called. Ten years later, I have no clear memory of what we talked about–and neither does she. All we remember is that, every Tuesday, we talked.
I don’t mean to take away from those heartfelt hugs or condolence notes. They are extremely important, and I can promise you that they will be appreciated and remembered for years to come. But if you sense that something else might be needed–and that you’re the right person to offer it–I would encourage you to pick up the phone.
Because I believe in the Tuesday call.
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