Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lean on me or let me lean on you April 28, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:06 AM
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A portrait I took of my mom during my last visit with her in early March. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2020.


I HIT A WALL late yesterday afternoon. Maybe you’ve reached that point. Maybe not. But, after weeks of shelter-in-place and concern for loved ones, I felt overwhelmed.

A health update on my mom, who is in hospice in a care center 120 miles distant, caused sadness to sweep over me. I long to see her, to be there for her in the final stages of her life. But I can’t. And that breaks my heart. Then, I thought, how selfish of me. She is the one without family surrounding her. Not me. She is the one who is alone. Not me. So I re-framed my thinking, feeling gratitude for the last time I visited her, the weekend prior to care centers closing to visitors. What a gift.


I love this message in the Second Street pocket garden in downtown Faribault. It’s a wonderful reminder to love one another. I photographed this just the other day.


And then I called my uncle and updated him on his sister and talked to him about my aunt, his wife, who is undergoing chemo for terminal cancer. We discussed the challenges of this situation during COVID-19. And, in that conversation, we talked also about Zoom and mashed potatoes and gravy, and phoning his cousin, a pork producer. Laughter mingled with near tears.

I thought of his hog farmer cousin and all the other farmers facing unprecedented challenges now with regional meat processing plants shutting down and no place to send animals. And I considered my friend and her family in Worthington, a community in southwestern Minnesota hard hit by COVID-19. Nobles County, with a population of some 22,000, had 399 confirmed cases of the virus on Monday, most traced to a local meatpacking plant. No place is exempt. I worry about my friend…

We are all dealing with something, right? Missing family. Job loss. Concern about loved ones living in care centers with diagnosed cases of COVID. Grieving, like friends who last week lost a sister/sister-in-law to COVID and an uncle to a farm accident. It’s a lot.


My prayer list, written on a whiteboard propped against the entertainment center in my living room. This photo is from a few weeks ago. I update this list nearly daily with some names/concerns removed, others added.


In all of this, the need to support and love one another seems more important than ever. I’ve found myself reaching out and connecting every day with friends and family dealing with situations that are difficult any time, but even more so now. Mental illness. Cancer. Unemployment. I try to listen and encourage. And I continue to pray, updating my whiteboard daily by adding new names of those in need of prayer.

We’ll all get through this. I know we will. But there are days when we will struggle, when we will feel overwhelmed, when we will grieve and even feel angry. On those days, especially those days, I reach out to others. Not for sympathy, but to be that person they can lean on.

TELL ME: Are you struggling at times? How do you handle those moments? And how are you helping others? I’d like to hear, because we can all learn from one another as we continue to deal with this global pandemic and the resulting challenges.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


17 Responses to “Lean on me or let me lean on you”

  1. It is so so challenging…for so many. I really can’t/shouldn’t complain but I too feel it. I do wish you could visit your mom. It must be so hard for her to be all alone.

    I wish you well.

    • We are all facing challenges. And the challenges I face should not diminish yours. We are grieving. We are missing the normalcy of life. I firmly believe that we need to look out for one another and care, deeply. Be well, my Canadian friend.

  2. Kim Kendall Says:

    Such a beautiful, touching picture of your mom, Audrey! Praying for your moms contentment and comfort. Prayers also for the Kletscher family. It is so hard to not be able to see your loved one in the nursing home.

  3. Prayer. Kindness and support as well as love and caring. Connecting to spread hope and positive and how are you doing and talk through stress, frustration, being overwhelmed, etc. Humor – find some humor. It is okay to just sit and be with your feelings and emotions too. Find that release. Just talk about something, everything, anything – it can be mind clearing at times. Go for a walk, find a good book to read, cook and bake, etc. Self care is so important in being able to connect and help others around you. Be Safe and Take Care Everyone

  4. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I read this today in my devotion…”We can cry and praise God at the same time”.
    I really like that because there is going to be emotions….so many feelings, loss’s and sorrow, BUT at the same time we can praise our all loving God, the one who knows just how we feel 🙂 I have sent an encouraging devotion book with hand written cards to my daughter and DIL. Letters sent to my grandkids and Zoom chats with a lots of family and friends. For me I try not to watch the national media and just stick to the local news, and I pray…like you for all of the people 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear about your mom, cant imagine how hard it would be not to be with her now. Sending hugs your way.

  5. valeriebollinger Says:

    What a great photo of your mom. I’m sorry you cannot see her, I’m sorry you cannot see Izzy and Issac and I’m sorry I can’t see baby Luca and Aria. I have given myself permission to be sad and not worry about having to be doing something all the time. I don’t mind sitting in silence. And then, reaching out to check on others is encouraging too…phone, text, letters, cards and emails. How different this pandemic time would feel if we did not have the great technology to see and communicate with each other that we have today. Thank you Audrey, for your encouraging blog posts.

    • Valerie, I agree fully that it’s OK to feel sad. We are all grieving the loss of something. Thank you for all you are doing to encourage others. And, yes, I am so thankful for technology also to keep us connected.

  6. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    I think about family who were impacted by the Spanish flu in 1918-19. It seems from this point in time they did not wish to talk about their experiences, like it was just a little bump on the path of life. For the one Grandmother the 1919 flu compromised her health to the extent that she had breathing difficulties for the rest of her life but she lived for another 30 years! I feel like I am just starting to understand the premise ‘to be in an attitude of prayer all day long.’

  7. I just had gotten done commenting on a blog friend I follow in NYC. LA writes a blog and showed a circle diagram of how large the issues are and how at the center they all affect her. Then she mentions a friend of her husband who committed suicide. As I scrolled through the comments I found out it was a woman emergency room surgeon. Can you imagine the amount of stress and hopeless feelings she must have had each and every day? What comment can we offer to those suffering from things most have never experienced? I could only comfort in letting her know that I have lost so many combat buddies in similar situations. In those jobs on the front lines of battle or on the front lines of battling a virus the stress is enormous. The stakes high, the support of others around you sometimes limited due to the operational tempo. Now with social distancing and hugs from others experiencing the same is very isolating. I felt selfish to ask for your prayers recently but then I know that is silly too. The universe takes the total of all our concerns and mixes it into a solution. The power of many is greater than the power of one. So asking for prayer, help, sharing the burden of our concerns is our only way forward as humans to find solutions. We must focus on the collective good!! Be kind, offer help, shift our love inward and our concerns to the universe. Be safe, be healthy, be humble, and love always!

    • Paula, it’s a lot, isn’t it? All of this. But you understand how to help others. I read that in your words. One of the most important things you can do is LISTEN. Just listen. Listen to your friend or family member vent and share his/her burdens. And while you may be able to relate from your experiences, try not to make the conversation about you or your story. Stay focused instead on the other person’s story and challenges if they are the one you are trying to help. Not that your story isn’t important. But in that moment, theirs should remain front and center.

      Asking me to pray for you or others is a request I joyfully accept. It is an honor to pray for others. So, please, ask away. You and yours remain on my whiteboard.

      You are absolutely right in that we all need to be here for one another. You learned that is of utmost importance while serving in the military. We depend on one another. We need each other. We are in this together. I think some important lessons can be learned in how the military approaches situations. Thank you for serving. I know you still deal with the difficulties of that through PTSD. I see in you an incredibly strong and thoughtful individual. I admire those qualities in you. Those strengths. Be safe. Be well. And know that I am always here to listen, Paula.

      Thank you for taking the time to add your insights here. I always appreciate them.

  8. That picture of your mom is priceless. I , too, am so grateful I was able to see my mom in February despite a ton of travel issues because I do not know when I will see her again. That is the most difficult part and I try to push it to the back, like you, and refocus and reframe but it still sneaks up on my now and then. I think that is okay. At other times I feel so isolated from it. I live in my little bubble here in Connestee Falls, have hardly needed to go “out” and when I do it has been very limited and safely. Not everyone has that luxury. And yes–it does seem like a luxury. We are at a place in our lives where we don’t “want” for anything. But that does not mean I don’t really really miss my family and physical contact with them and with friends. We all will get through it in different ways –we just have to realize we are entitled to have those days that are less than perfect and allow ourselves to work through those. I love your white board. Great idea.

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