"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
— Henri J.M. Nouwen
I think of myself as a "fixer." An analytical thinker who, given a problem, instantly begins the process of weeding through ideas to find a solution. When I was pregnant, I read a bazillion articles and books about pregnancy. Soon the firstborn was keeping us up at night and the "What to expect" book was never too far out of reach. Google has been both friend and foe in the effort to tackle such parenting issues as picky eaters, weird ailments (see Fifth's Disease... transmitted to us electronically via Stomper Girl, impetigo and the MRSA scare).
My brother died. You can't fix that. Can't read an article, attend a class, find a resource to make your life, the lives of those you love, magically return to the sunny days of "before". But by God I tried. I read books on grief, stupidly offered them to my mother, thinking that grief and loss is something that you "fix." Then I stumbled upon this. And I knew. This isn't fixable. It doesn't go away. It does change, life can still be good. But it doesn't return to what it was. How can it? All of life's experiences change us, make us different people than we were in the before.
I often wish that instead of shoving solutions her way, I had just sat with my mother and done nothing. Just helped her carry the weight of grief. I wish I had just been there. Just given my love and my sorrow and my own sadness. Simply been there.
Today I have read of two people who are touching wounds with warm and tender hands. Instead of fixing, they are giving love and hope. It reminds me that life is not always warm and safe. But there are friends who make it not quite so dark. Not quite so lonely. Not quite so sad.
Thank you friends.
6 months ago