I was working late, when I heard repeated sniffling from upstairs. After a while I went to investigate, and sitting huddled on the top stair was Margaret, miserably sick with a cold. I sat a stair or two down to be closer to her level and hugged her, and she held me hard.
I got her to lie down on the couch in the back room by promising to sit with her, got some tissues for her, and sat next to her for a few minutes. Then, when it became clear that she just wanted my presence and not my active attention, and after getting her permission, I went downstairs to retrieve my laptop, and then came back up to continue my work sitting next to her.
Eventually her sniffles subsided and she managed to get to sleep. I couldn't make her cold go away, but at least I was able to make her less miserable.
I think that's what parenting is all about.