It is so hard sometimes to allow my happy to shine through when I know there is so much sad for friends. My happy seems to get swallowed up by the knowledge of their sadness.
I am overcome with emotion for my friend Beverly. We have all lost people in our lives, some have lost many, some have lost only one or two. Some have had losses of great depth, others have had losses that while meaningful are not time-standing-still kinds of losses. We might have lost the same person in our lives, say our fathers, but the circumstances of the death, where we are in our lives, and our relationship with the person all figure into how the loss affects us. My father became ill, went through treatment, and suffered less than six months. I hated seeing him suffer, and I had time to tell him I loved him many times before he died. In fact, I was able to witness his passing–it was extraordinary. And while I hate the disease that took him, and I hate that he had to suffer for one minute, I am glad that I had time with him and was ready to see him get out of that pain. When my husband’s father died, we received a phone call that he had suffered a horrible heart attack. He didn’t get a chance to recuperate and make changes in his life and diet. There were no goodbyes. There were no hugs. There was no relief at seeing him get to leave his misery. He just was gone in an instant. Two fathers, two deaths, two very different responses to the loss.
My friend Beverly lost her son a few years ago in an instant. She has thought herself to be so weak, and she has continued to grieve his loss often in her posts. Her heart has held to the grief for her son. A couple of days ago, she lost her husband in an instant. She had no say over it, she wasn’t able to say her goodbyes. He is gone from her daily life. She says she doesn’t know how to live without him. I beg to differ. She is an incredibly strong woman. She has found ways to live and celebrate her son. She will pull from the depths of her soul to find strength to live and celebrate her husband. She will teach so many of us how to find joy when our hearts are hurting. She might not be able to do that today or tomorrow or this year…but she will do it, and we will all celebrate with her as she sees the strength that she has been given. Her son and husband are always right there in every smile she shares, every stitch she sews, every goody she bakes. Her two living children have lost a brother and a father. They are surely just as sad as she, and they will show us all how to pull together with every opportunity to relish the moments with those we love. I will pray for their comfort every day. I don’t pray because I think there is a magical solution coming their way, but I pray because I know that my thoughts are powerful, and anything I can offer them is worth my energy. Maybe you could do the same.
This is the holiday season, and it is one of the hardest times of the year for anyone who has ever lost anyone else. Don’t think that your hurt is greater than mine. Don’t think that your hurt isn’t worthy of being mentioned because it wasn’t a horrific loss. We all have hurting hearts for those we have loved and lost, for those we have stopped loving but who are not lost, and for those who seem not to love us, but whose love we so desire.
I hope that you take a minute every day, but especially every day of this month, to look around you. Be willing to share your hurt and to allow someone else to share theirs. Offer opportunities for friends, family, and sometimes strangers sharing space with you to tell you about what is bringing them pain this holiday season. I’ll go first.
I feel sadness for my mother who has no husband with whom to share the joys of the day. I feel sadness that my friend has lost her sister and her mother. I feel sadness that another friend has lost her son, and her daughter has lost her brother. I feel sadness that another friend has lost her son and husband, and her children have lost their brother and father. I feel sadness that I never knew my mother-in-law, that my husband has no parents, and that I have no father to tell me I’ll always be his little girl. I feel sadness that church is not what it once was in my life. I feel sadness when I let people down. I feel sadness that my friends have lost their mother and friend and are struggling to live each day. I feel sadness that my nephew is sad and lonely. I feel sadness that I cannot fix your pain (crazy, but true).
But in life there must be balance. There must always be balance…
I feel joy because I can hop in the car and see and hug my mother. I feel joy because my husband’s aunt treats us as if we were her own. I feel joy because my children know love and show love. I feel joy because my husband still loves me and wants to spend time with me. I feel joy because I have friends who take time for me. I feel joy because my friend who lost her sister and mother has chosen to allow me into her life. I feel joy because I see families who are excited by the pictures I take of their children. I feel joy because my dog is always happy to see me (not joy when he pees about it). I feel joy because I have had the opportunity to know people to whom I am related who never knew I was here. I feel joy that I can remember my daddy. I feel joy that my family members, extended and immediate, matter to each other.
The lists could go on and on.
I feel. Some people say I feel too much (both directions). It is not easy to feel so greatly, and it can be exhausting. But I feel and I love and I am so glad to have the opportunity to impact others through my words and actions.
Make your lists.
Make time for others.
Make life today count.