A young man, head down with his hands folded into the pockets of his jacket walks over to the edge of the forest and sits down with his back leaning against an old oak tree. Tired and spent, he's unable to grasp the depths of how he feels anymore. Too much tragedy has scored his soul and it all happened too quickly. He has suffered loss, incredible loss of the two people in his life he always thought would live forever. Numbness has enveloped his whole body........so deeply that he couldn't even feel the knife he stabbed into his leg. He thought it would relieve the psychic pain searing through his veins.........a hot lava pouring into his gut.
Strange contradictory sensations........here he is feeling such an unrelenting burning in the pit of his stomach and yet he's numb too. It's like he has no more room to take it in. He's saturated by it..........and then the numbness? Its like he's been anethesized by a large dentist needle and it has frozen his whole body. So, he sits head down, his arms pulling his knees in as he desperately tries to close himself off from the rest of the crowd......an invisible fetus holding on in the dark with no womb to protect him.
He can't think. No, he can think, but the thoughts blast into one another in rapid succession. Erratically scrambled, they make no sense. They pollute his mind leaving no room for anything but static noise. He can't think clearly. He can't hear beyond the static. He doesn't want to. In the middle of the night, the only sound that filters up from the confused noise is a the lonely sound of a cello. Its baritone moan fits his sorrow. Too much sorrow for one adolescent. Too much loss. He smokes a joint to try to take it all away. It doesn't work.
His friends have somehow managed to carry on. From his vantage, they seem to be coping with their shared loss. Maybe they don't feel it as deeply. They mingle together on the playing field, lost in a game where their laughter spills out into the air. He sits on the sidelines, cocooned.
Through the mindfog, he hears someone calling his name over and over and over. Slowly he looks up. His dark bloodshot eyes meet the compassionate eyes of his friend who sits down quietly beside him. Close to him. She says nothing. Just sits beside him for the longest time, until her warmth somehow permeates his arm.
He tries to stay within himself. He refuses to feel her presence. At first he can tune her out. He can stay numb, but then it becomes impossible because she begins to feel like an appendage of him....part of the surging flow inside. Her silence is like a calm warm wave that keeps passing through his noise. She tucks her arm into his while continuing to remain silent............silent in a way that shifts the pain, and coats it with cotton. After an eternity, when she feels him relax a bit, she moves her arm and puts it around his shoulders, pulling him into her embrace. No words, just gestures of compassion. And when he feels comfortable in her arms, the words begin.......
"I will sit with you as long as you need me," she whispers. "I will sit here until you know we love you and we won't let you fade away."
The tears he has kept at bay begin to fall. "It hurts so much I can't handle it. I can't deal with this. It's not fair. Why did this happen to me? Why did God let this happen? I never want to love again. It hurts too much."
She says......"I don't have those answers. I wish I knew. What I do know is that all we have is love and eachother in this fucked up world and as much as love can rip you in two, it is all we have Josh. So, I want you to remember, when you are alone, know that I will think of you. In the morning, when I get up, I will think of you."
She takes his hand and opens it up from his clutch and kisses his palm gently. "See where I kissed you? It will remain there. Even if you wash your hands 1000 times, it will still be there. And when we grow up and move away...........when we all learn to cope and to live with our loss or not, and when you grieve on those days when you miss your Dad and your best friend the most, you can look at your open hand and know that you carry a kiss. My kiss. It tells you that you're never alone because I promise you that every morning, I will think of you and pray for your well being. Your pain is mine. Your joy is mine. Let me in to care.........."
Sobbing now for the first time, he bows his head into her chest while she rocks him in silence. No words. No answers. Just tenderness. His weeping continues until he has nothing left, until he falls asleep safe in his friend's arms.
Writing this, I was thinking about a young man I don't know very well who is going through big stuff and I don't know if he will find his way. He has many people around him who love him dearly and who would move mountains to take away his pain. I don't think he can hear them right now and I don't think he can see beyond the bubbled cocoon he has constructed around himself. I pray they keep trying because I fear they may be too afraid of the intensity of the pain. Plus they are going through their own. They too have suffered loss.
It also made me think about how many people are in the same emotional dessert, and it left me wondering.......... if we could all step into someone elses circle when they are in need, and simply tell them that we can be counted on for as long as their journey feels lonely......AND beyond that.
We hold back thinking someone else is going to be the one to kiss the hand of a another human being. But what if we all think that? No one gets kissed! Too many people in our world have absolutely no one thinking of them at least once a day. Can you imagine? I can hardly imagine it because I am blessed with my family and friends both at home and work................gotta believe at least one of them is wondering what i'm up to! And of course, I am thinking of them as well. All the time. They never leave my thinking. I may get busy and involved in a variety of tasks and commitments, but the people who live under my big umbrella with me? They know as I do. We are connected in a compassion of caring for one another.
What would it be like not to have anyone to share the protection of the umbrella? What if no one knew you were alive? I may not ever want to feel the level of pain others feel, but damn if I'm going to try to find the courage to sit with someone in need of being recognized as a hurting human being even if it scares me to death. It's all I can do. It's all anyone is asked to do. There is always room under the umbrella isn't there? If we don't recognize a person who lives in their pain alone, who will? Hope and healing begin with the gift of recognition..........the gift of love.