Tuesday, September 1, 2015

the bark and the bite

Today my husband said to me the saddest words I could ever imagine “I’m going to pick up my mother’s ashes today.” It cracked me open to my mourning all day long. I sobbed to a stranger at the gym because I could not contain my feelings, they were too big. The stranger looked nervous but I was short and sweet and considerate and finished my hysterics in the shower. I felt sensitive to the pain of the whole world today, from victims of the atomic bomb who’s mothers may have turned into ashes before their eyes, to everyone who has ever lost anyone. I felt gutted and so very tender and so very sad.

My primary impulse was to save my husband from ever feeling any pain. I just wanted to absorb it for him, fix it, make it go away, give him a reprive, anything to spare him. This, of course would be a great disservice to him. Pain is what makes the sweet life even sweeter. Feeling it gives us such gifts, it expands us, takes us to new depths, teaches us about compassion and it is a natural part of loving someone. Pain is part of what gives us our humanity, part of what makes us human.

None of those lofty concepts mattered this morning, I still wanted to protect him from feeling it, as if I could. I couldn’t. The beauty of pain is that we can try to avoid feeling it but it will catch up to us sooner or later, it always does. All I can do is hold his hand and be there for him during it, which is actually hard to do and is terrifying for me, but which is what I will do, come hell or high water. I will just be there.

The world is full of folk who don’t want to feel their pain and will do anything not to. I speak purely from experience and even though I would like to save you all from your pain and save myself as well, feeling it is the very thing that changes everything, and makes us strong and safe and alive and of service. Don’t fight it, feel it. The bark is so much worse than the bite. God bless us all.

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