I hug my friend Lois when she opens her front door. I ask how she is doing, realizing how powerful her honest answer could be. Lois has inoperable lung cancer.

She says that she is okay and smiles, but her shoulders feel thin to me.
I visit her often these days, to bring a basket of fresh peaches, a bunch of balloons or a new prescription of pills.
Today I am here to help her plan her 43rd birthday party. Though she does not like big-deal celebrations, she's agreed to a small gathering of family and friends.
But as we sit together at her kitchen table, pencil and paper in hand, our conversation
wanders away from party planning and cake flavors. We talk about planning the future.

She confesses that she does not know how to plan an uncertain future and she begins to cry.
My heart aches. Ever since I learned of her cancer, I have prayed not only for
her miraculous healing, but that we, her friends, would be
able to meet her needs. Sometimes, like right now, I feel so helpless and inadequate.
What can I DO or SAY to ease her hurt?

I plead with Lois and ask her that if our roles were reversed, what would you say to me right now?

Lois says she would say NOTHING, I would just listen.

And there in her simple response is my answer.
As a friend, I can't heal or change the painful situation. But I can LISTEN...with ears that open into my heart.