Posted in Partnerships

Holding the Pain

It’s amazing how certain things in our lives keeps showing up.  In my conversations for the past twenty years with people like you, those newly diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the same words and phrases continually appear.  Our human experience is shared and our emotional and spiritual lives are ways we can express ourselves to others.  Here is something I wrote back in 1997 that I found this morning:

July 2, 1997

What is it that makes us ready to open our heart to a pain which is so pure and genuine?  Being incorporated into someone’s life the way a cat hair may get crocheted into an afghan.  The opportunity to bond with an individual or family in such a way that when the person is alive you’re a godsend and afterwards all you represent is death and emptiness, or do I?   What else might I be?  I hope I can restore people’s faith in human nature.

Somewhere when a person has been violated or betrayed, either by someone else or their own body, I arrive and ask them to trust me, to help them navigate this new life.  I try to reverse or make better all the ills they have suffered in their life or are currently suffering.  My attempt is to help the person clean out the wound and be able, once again, to connect to the human essence of compassion and connectedness.

I like awake wondering how to relieve a person’s suffering.  As I write I realize it is about bracing myself for a bumpy roller coaster ride which will continue until the calm of the coaster station arrives at which point the person has died.  May I have it backwards, perhaps the roller coaster ride doesn’t start until the person dies or maybe it starts the moment the doctor says, “I’m sorry to tell you…”  I guess we need to look at who’s at the control panel–maybe we’ll both be surprised.

So the real question becomes, “How do you measure a year?” as the question is posed in my favorite musical RENT.  Maybe love is the only yardstick to use anywhere.  That being the case, can I be on the lookout for such a blatant experience?  Will I know it as it happens or will I need to look back and say; this was a sign of love.  A measure of that person’s trust, not to do harm, faith to be true to my word and genuine in my emotions throughout our journey together.

So for now I will get in the car with you on this ride.  I may not be able to take the fear out of the ride, but maybe it’s really about being able to scream with you as we go over the huge drop on the roller coaster–that freedom to release and have witness to the experience.

I offer this post with admiration, love, and support for your journey.

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