Saturday, July 06, 2013

A Hand to Hold

Maybe I am more sensitive than most. I can't watch the news. I don't watch most tv shows or movies because they are too upsetting to me. Hearing bad news physically overwhelms me. Truthfully, I am easily overwhelmed by how difficult and painful life is. Not necessarily my life, but life in general. This sensitivity allows me to feel what others feel and sometimes that is a beautiful thing. Often, it is too much to bear.

Several years back, I found myself sitting in church at a memorial service for a good friend's baby who was born too soon. Thinking of it now still overwhelms me to the point of not being able to function well for at least a full day until I recover. The pain and the loss was too much. As I sat there, a lovely woman I knew sat next to me. Not knowing what else to do as I fell apart, I simply asked her to hold my hand through this painful experience. I am not one for much physical affection, but I just needed to feel someone else there... someone who could help me feel strong enough to stay in the room and walk with my friend through this.

Today, I find myself needing another hand to hold. You see, the woman whose hand I held last time is very ill. She has been for awhile now, actually... but not like this. I think that is why I wanted to hold her hand before. I knew how strong she was to keep fighting, to keep hoping, and I needed a little of that to rub off on me.

I'm not really sure what to make of all this illness, all this pain, all this deep sadness that seems to go along with living. I often don't feel strong enough to keep feeling. Most of the time, I find myself wanting to retreat... to hide away from the world so I don't have to feel it all anymore. But I don't think that would leave me much life to live. It turns out there's no separating this pain from the bliss and the joy and the hope that goes along with life as well. You get them all or you get nothing.

And so, today, I need a hand to hold to keep on walking through it all. Someone strong who will let me fall apart for others and feel their pain. Someone who will sit with me quietly while I pull myself back together, put on a brave face, and keep walking.

Pray with me for the sweetest hand holder I know. She is a remarkable woman who could also use a hand to hold right now.

1 comment:

socialpariah said...

I understand about not watching the news. When I left Louisiana after Katrina, I was unable to watch any hurricane footage for months and months. My dad was a news photographer for the only station that stayed on the air during and after the storm, 4-WWL, and we are lucky that he is still with us. We didn't hear from him for a week after the storm, but he resurfaced (no pun intended) and it was the happiest day of my life. Almost a year after the storm, I was sitting alone in a crappy sports bar in Chapel Hill, watching the Weather Channel because that's what was on, and they ran an "After Katrina" piece on Storm Stories. It was the first time I had faced the hurricane after I left Louisiana. The Storm Stories piece featured my dad. He rescued a man from the floods and it was on tape. He never told me about it. I didn't even know he was going to be on the Weather Channel. He didn't tell me. He saw so many horrifying things while he was there and even though it's 8 years later, he still won't discuss them.

He dealt with his losses in his own way, and no one begrudged him. He was very quiet, and had I not been in that bar on that night, watching that piece on TV, I still wouldn't have known my dad was a hero, and I never talked to him about it.

It is okay that you deal with loss by being quiet for a day or so. I know you know this. It's ok that it screws up your routine, that memory interferes. I'm sorry your remarkable friend needs a hand to hold but I'm so happy that you're there to hold it.

I know this comment is super long, but I felt the need to tell you I get it. The first time I went to Greenleaf, I was crying like a baby for a million reasons I could never put into words. You didn't know me, but you came over to me and handed me a Kleenex and told me no one should have to cry without a Kleenex, or something to that effect.

The reason this was important to me was because you didn't pry, you didn't demand that I talk about my problems. All you did was offer support, and you didn't even know me. No one does that for me. It may be one of the reasons I was crying.

This, Jo, is why you are beautiful to me.

You have no clue how perfect and accepting you are. The fact that you were there for your friend at her baby's memorial service, and you're there for your other friend now, THAT'S remarkable.

You have no idea what your actions do for other people. You were a stranger to me, and by being open, supportive, and KIND, you helped me more than I could ever explain. What a fantastic woman you are, Jo.

I don't know why I felt compelled to type a novelette on your blog. But I'm not sorry for taking up this much space if it perhaps lets you know that you are a treasure to your friends, and everyone who gets to interact with you is so blessed and lucky.

See you tomorrow.
xo, mandey.