When I Needed a Helping Hand

Leslie Knope, Parks and Rec

I don’t always blog about things in order. And many things I don’t blog about at all. Right now I’m dropping right into mid break-up time, it’s kind of like clicking channels and landing on a Lifetime Movie which is halfway over — and watching it anyway.





It was the dead of Winter. My then husband of many years had moved out just days prior. He took only one suitcase, although he had secured an apartment, a fact I discovered later. There is a very long a painful story here that is beyond the scope of this post (I say that often, I know). Anyway, I guess his plan was to come and go at his leisure to get the rest of his belongings. I realized that I couldn’t take that; having him leave the first time had been horrific, I couldn’t handle a repeat. Consequently, I told him I would get his things together so that he could pick them up in one trip. I packed and consolidated his stuff (again, the packing may be a subject of another post, it involved two of my bridesmaids, wine and Fatal Attraction). See My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra. Next, I planned to put his belongings outside on the porch for him to retrieve without me or the kids being involved at all.

I lived in a great neighborhood, people were always willing to help each other out. We (when the Ex and I were still a “we”) had made friends with another couple our age. We didn’t do the dinner party thing much (they were child-free, we were not, and my husband wasn’t really the socializing type — then) but we talked periodically and the neighbor husband was always helpful when we needed a another man to help move furniture or something. He was our Go-To Guy. So when everything was packed (behind closed doors so the kids wouldn’t have to see) and when the stuff was ready to be relocated to the porch, I called the Go-To Guy to help. His wife answered. When I asked if her husband was around to help me move something she told me he was out of town on business. But, she added, “If it’s not too heavy, I can help you. ”

“Uh, okay, thanks.” I replied, but didn’t tell her what I was moving. I hadn’t figured out how to tell that part yet. This was all so new, a fresh, deep, bleeding wound.

A few minutes later, she arrived, ready to help me.

“Okay, so what are we moving?” she asked, cheerfully. She is a very positive person.

“[Ex] has moved out we’re moving his stuff to the porch.”

This much must be understood. Neither this woman nor her husband had any idea there was trouble in paradise; I had been married for a long time and had “multiple” kids. See Fertile Myrtle. They had known us both for years. This was HUGE news. Huge.

But it’s her response to my major announcement that still makes me smile to this day, and it’s what I will always remember and love her for. She said, in a matter-of-fact, almost casual, way:

“Okay, maybe one day when you feel like it, you can tell me what happened.”

That’s it. That’s all she said. Then together we proceeded to move all of his packed belongings to the large covered porch. We didn’t discuss it at all. When we were done, she went home. As scheduled, my husband picked up his things early the next day while the kids and I slept.

Not that night, not the next day, but a little while later, I told her the whole story. But the fact that she did not ask or need to know or even need to ask that night shows what a good friend and person she was, and is.

People often wonder what to say in response to an announcement of a break-up or divorce.

Sometimes the response is, simply, “So where are the boxes?”

Just Me With . . . yet another good friend.

My Cheating Husband Was Packing Viagra

To My Best Friend on Mother’s Day

Six Days of Separation

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise

Riding With My Boss

Another Kind Heart

20 responses

  1. That was a beautiful thing she did for you and she handled it beautifully. My heart goes out to you and sending you big hugs. Have you two become close friends?

  2. Wow. THAT is a good friend.

    All I ever got from my “friends”: Blank stares, scoffing as if I were lying then “Wow. Really, he’s leaving you for another woman? Is she hot?”

    I also had a poignant moment with my neighbors. It was the first time post-separation that the kids were leaving my house to spend a week with their dad, and he was in the driveway with the kids loaded up. As he pulled away, the kids were leaning out the window, blowing kisses, yelling how much they loved me, etc.

    My favorite neighbors were in their front yard. They laughed, and said, “Geez…you’d think they were going away for a week!”

    I burst into tears. They had no idea we had separated, nor did they know the kids really were leaving for a week…

    It’s amazing how much neighbors know — and yet, how much they sometimes don’t know.

    This was a beautiful post and brought back memories. Thank you! 🙂

  3. What a kind and thoughtful person. Thank you for a reminder that sometimes the simplest thing to say is “How can I help?” and MEAN it.

  4. “So where are the boxes.” BRILLIANT! I have to remember that. People drove me crazy when I first told them my marriage was over — especially people who we were fairly close to when I was married. Nearly everyone said things like “Oh I’m so sorry.” or “How sad.” Why weren’t these people sad when I was miserably married and telling them that my husband was neglecting me and our daughter? Where was their sadness when I told them very candidly that the marriage felt dead and that I’d done all I could do to revive even though he was not interested in doing anythign to heal it? And worse, how DARE they be indignant when I told them the break up is a very good and healthy thing and that the marriage was what was sad?

    “So where are the boxes.” Yes. Perfect. THANK YOU! Spread the word people!!!

  5. awesome- sometimes the simplest is the best. I am glad you had a friend like her

  6. I love this story! It takes me back to my own moving-out. As Quasiblondo said, I had certain friends and family members who listened for years as I complained about my marriage, but when I told them I was leaving him, they seemed to think it was their job to talk me out of it or tell me how to “save” things.
    There were, however and thank god, one or two folks who never asked questions other than “What do you need?” “Do you need help?” or “Do you need a place to stay?” Those people have no idea what heroes they are to me. No matter how I thank them, I can’t do it justice.

  7. What a great post…break ups are hard enough as is…explaining them over and over to different people is just added torture. Nice to hear you had a good moment in the midst of all the chaos

  8. love the grace of the friend. so sweet.

  9. […] lending me money,  to appearing as witnesses at court, one I’ve written about already, When I Needed a Helping Hand, and I may write about others.  It’s important to share stories about goodness in the world. […]

  10. […] other couples.   The party was hosted by  the very cool woman who had been there for me “When I Needed a Helping Hand,”  and her husband, my former “Go-To Guy.”  Good […]

  11. […] the best responses to finding out about my break up see, “When I Needed A Helping Hand“   and “Riding With My Boss” and “Six Days of Separation“ Share […]

  12. […] When I Needed A Helping Hand […]

  13. […] taking surprisingly few possessions, saying he’d come back for the rest.   As I discussed in  When I Needed A Helping Hand,  I didn’t want want him to keep coming back to get his stuff so I decided I’d pack it […]

  14. […] When I Needed A Helping Hand –  To move his stuff. […]

  15. […] When I Needed a Helping Hand — People can be so nice. […]

  16. Just stumbled across your blog. Enjoying it. You certainly have a way with words…your bridesmaids wine and Fatal Attraction…I burst out laughing!!

  17. […] When I Needed a Helping Hand — Moving my husband’s things out. […]

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