Showing Up by Michelle Jones

The sky was nothing nice the morning I flew back to Atlanta from Detroit.  It was cold and the grass was frosty.  They were expecting icy rain in the Motor City, and I was so glad I wouldn’t be there to see it.

My friend Monique’s father had passed away.  He had not been present in her life for most of her life, but she walked with him in his last days battling lung cancer.  Amazing! Grace like that comes straight from God. She made all the arrangements, calling aunts, uncles, and cousins she barely knew to tell them that their relative—in truth, a man she barely knew—had died.

The funeral was in Detroit, so I showed up—not for the service, for Monique.

When you think about it, “relative” is a pretty relative term.  “Family” isn’t always connected biologically, and many of us live, eat, and sleep with relative strangers.  What really makes us belong to one another?  How do onlookers know that you and me have a “we” between us?

The answer is simple, if not always easy to execute.  Whenever they can, family shows up.

In those few days with Monique, I was struck by the value of the GIFT OF PRESENCE.  We all have it, but I suspect it is one of the most under-used of our store of offerings.  We don’t know how much it means to others that we are in touching range, holding range, that our voices are carried on warm breath and not over wireless networks or through satellites.  There is a lot to be said for tight hugs, firm shoulders, and hands that wipe away falling tears.

Monique couldn’t be more my sister if we had entered this world through the same womb.  I prayed for her, talked to her, and counseled her, but nothing mattered more to her than my getting on a plane so I could be with her.  I was so grateful to be able to put a reassuring hand on her during the service, drive her around to run last minute errands to Kinko’s, or to have a place for her to retreat to when things got a little overwhelming.  We shared my bible and watched TV.  We ate too much, and playfully argued about who lost the spare room key (she did, of course).  We tried to see who could imitate Popeye’s laugh the best (I did, of course). We wept over the frailty of people, and the awesomeness of God.  We ate, shared, laughed, and cried TOGETHER.

Too quickly it was over.  We hugged and went to our separate airlines for our separate trips home, she to Los Angeles and me to Atlanta, carrying within us the gifts we received from one another.  I’m not always good at showing up, but being with Monique reminded me that it is the ultimate act of Love.

Love comes to see about you.  Love shows up as open arms when he sees you coming, without needing to know why you’re there.  Love shows up as ears listening for what you mean, not just what you say even if you say nothing.  Love is a card, a call, or some cash when it needs to be, but Love becomes flesh whenever the opportunity presents itself.

We are most alive when we are present, not just accounted for. Where did you last show up?



  1. Beth Adams said,

    January 10, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Well written my friend! I love sharing life with you.

  2. mercedes said,

    January 11, 2010 at 8:08 am

    This is so beautiful. Am I reminded of when I was going through my divorce. A friend flew to San Francisco with me. She wound up being on a first date and having to come and get me. Fiasco righ? I am crying in the backseat and she climbed over the seat and wrapped her arms around me. I will never forget that moment, ever!

    You showed up, when you took the time to write this. Thank you!

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