Comfort in Suffering Together
The day is gray and the cold rain seems to be an outside picture of my inner landscape. My poached eggs on toast sit on the plate, uneaten, already cold. I sip the hot tea and wish for its warmth to magically warm the coldness I feel inside my chest.
It's way too much to expect that from a cup of tea, but I wish it anyway.
I look at my new puppy, asleep by my feet, and a smile crosses my face. It's been a while since I really laughed but seeing him stumble over his own tiny legs and bark at the cold tiles does the trick. It's quite amazing what a small little animal can do to warm someone's heart when you least expect it.
My thoughts drift to my beautiful friend who gave birth to her baby daughter on the day that Jason passed away. That very same day my darling friend wept as she lost her newborn baby. Death came rushing in moments after life had sprung, and my friend held her baby in her arms, as she wept and kissed her goodbye.
Another lovely friend comes over for a cup of tea. Not long ago we cried together and prayed together as she cared for her mother, watching the life slowly fade from her face as she bravely battled cancer. My friend lost her mother, she knows what grief tastes like, so she comforts me as I cry, and she prays for me as my own words fail to come out when I try to pray for myself.
I also think of friends whom we really love. Beautiful people who have known suffering intimately and too often and whom now walk along the path of grief once again with their darling daughter who also lost her baby on the very day he was born.
My darling friends weep with me for the loss of my husband, I weep with them for the loss of their grandson.
They opened their home and their hearts for me and my girls, they fed us, cried with us, reminisce about Jason with us, and encourage us to find pockets of happiness amidst my pain.
There is a strange comfort to be around those who have been marked by grief. There is a grace and a serenity to be able to be broken without having to explain or to worry about babysitting the feelings of others.
It's as if in their pain they make room for me and my girls to see our pain, to feel it and to know that as intense and all-consuming as it is right now, it's not all that I have.
They've known grief and carry it still, without trying to pretend to be brave, without striving to get over it, without denying it's pain or to give in to its despair. They help soothe our agony. I guess we soothe each other, really. And I see a glimpse of hope me in them. I see Christ in them. Christ who suffers with us, who stands by us, who comforts us, who strengthens us, who helps us in our time of need.
Suffering extends an invitation, "Would you take the road less traveled? Would you choose to know God more intimately? Would you dare to become more human? "
I want to say yes, to accept the opportunity, but the price scares me. I want to say yes because I know the alternative is bitterness, and the price of bitterness scares me even more. I want to say yes because the pain of losing my husband is the hardest and more agonizing pain I've ever suffered, and because I don't want all this suffering to go to waste.
And because maybe... just maybe, one day I may be able to warm somebody else's heart. Maybe one day I may be able to comfort someone with the same comfort that God has comforted me through the love, care, and warmth of others who've also suffered.