Written by Cameron Alexander.
Yes, you, reading this.
As Jane Austen would say, ‘Dear Reader.’
Think of a superhero. Superman, right? Or maybe Spiderman. Then again, in the MCU world, maybe you went to Thor, Iron Man, or Captain America. If you said Batman, I understand, though he has no superpowers.
You are mightier than them. You are more powerful. You are blessed with something that makes them all look weak.
Think of someone important to you. It may be a partner in a relationship, and they are sitting next to you right now. Or it could be a friend who you have known since primary school, or one you only met a few months ago but became a key part of your life. It could be a family member that held you when you were a baby. In my case, my cousin is my best friend.
I want you to test something. Next time you are with them, say something meaningful. Something true and honest. Something heartfelt. I’ll give you an example here. You know what? I’m going to spoil you. You can have two, reader.
I love my Nanna. I know that I am not alone in this, of course, but how often do we directly tell them that? I took a random trip last time I was back home to see her—to have a cup of tea and spend time with her. Even something small like that made her glow with so much happiness that I wanted to see her for no reason other than that. As I left, I gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek and told her I loved her. She scoffed as she often does, looked slightly away, patted my cheek (which is quite a reach for her), and replied, ‘Oh, I love you too, mate.’
My Nanna is very Irish but also very Australian. I’ll give two examples to show what I mean. When I was young, I would spend nights at her house as it was in the same town as my kinder. When we would be driving somewhere or even just cooking in the kitchen, the music playing would be Irish folk songs for which I still hold a great love, especially when I can remember her singing them. ‘Well yes, writer, I see how she is Irish, but what about the Australian?’ I hear you cry. I was just about to get to that reader. All of my family who played football played for one local team, and our biggest supporter was my Nanna. She would be there every week cheering us on. One week, I was watching as well, strolling around the grounds. ‘Why wasn’t I playing?’ I am terrible at sport, reader, try not to interrupt. There I am standing next to a very short 82-year-old woman whom I adore when a cousin gets tackled in what was clearly high but is called as holding the ball, to which my Nanna responds, ‘OH BULLSHIT, UMPIRE,’ which is a phrase I very commonly use to this day. As I said, very Australian.
We all have friends who sometimes need our support. They might need a kind word, encouragement, or advice when times are low. They appreciate it and as we do when it is us in that situation. But we often falter when the sun shines. My friend Dylan has had some rough points but has always been an amazing friend. He had a Snapchat story of him going to a job interview. I told him I was proud of him. Now I know that Snap allows us to take a photo we like before we send it, but the smile on his face and the blush on his cheek said more than his ‘Cheers, mate, you too’ ever could. And he has done the same to me when he says he is in awe of my ability to keep going no matter how shit everything gets (and believe me it has gotten very shit, what with both parents getting cancer, being dumped, facing drinking problems, being dumped again, failing classes due to the shift online, severe mental health issues). It brings … not joy, that’s not the right word, but it gives me warmth. And I look back on it and smile, though it is tinged by the fact that I often dealt with these things alone. Since originally penning this piece, we have hit a time where our superpower is needed more than ever. I won’t say you probably know someone affected by the current pandemic because you do. This doesn’t mean that they have caught it or had someone close to them catch it. If you are a student, you have been affected because you can no longer interact with people in class. You can no longer go meet people for coffee or a drink. And if, like me, you worked in the hospitality industry, you either lost your job as I did, or you were merely deprived of the escape from home that work can provide as well as the socialisation. I know it is difficult right now and that you or your friends may be struggling. Just remember that you can help your friends by speaking to them and checking in. I am so glad that you have been able to hold on through the chaos and, whilst at times you may feel useless or be annoyed at your own emotions, know that your emotions are valid and that you are important, you are not alone. You have people who care about you, and there are services from people who genuinely want to help.
You have a power, my friend, greater than any from a film or comic book. You can affect people’s lives in such a way that you have no idea. Tell your loved ones that they are exactly that. Be the sun in even their brightest days. They may be doing well, but you can always make them better.
Read more of Cameron’s work in the Atmosphere edition of WORDLY Magazine.