Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Fixer

"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.


Anonymous said...

You made me cry a little.

Aunty Evil said...

You are lovely.

You may not be able to stitch a quilt, but you are there as a friend, a daughter, a wife, a mother. You reach out to others who have suffered pain and you are there in ways you aren't even aware of.

You have a good heart.

Don't regret what you didn't do for your mum. Appreciate the fact that you were caring enough about her to try to find ways to help her through it. You were hurting too.

You did things your way.

You cared. You loved. You tried to help.

And that makes you lovely.

Mary said...

I can only echo every word of Aunty's.

As long as the attempted fixing (and I am a fixer too) is done with care and love I think you can steer a steady course.

A wonderful tribute to such very good people.

And you are one of those too...

Stomper Girl said...

You ARE lovely. And you were dealing with your grief too, so don't be hard on yourself.

Although I think I am by nature a fixer (I like people to have a plan when their lives are crap) I think listening is a good thing to do. I try to do that when people around me are sad. Sometimes when you are offered solutions it feels like people are negating your suffering, as in don't dwell, don't wallow, but you have to let your emotions run their course too.

Christie - Childhood 101 said...

I completely understand life as a 'fixer.' I am sure your Mum know that you were acting with the best of intentions and the important thing is that you were there.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are such a good person.

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