It's hard to understand where my heart is right now. My father is in the hospital again, my mother-in-law is facing losing 2 friends at once, 2 friends are watching as their relationships - the very structure of their lives - dissolve before their eyes and still another friend is watching helplessly as her mother plays out the final acts of self-destruction. Late last night we found out that dear friends of ours learned that their miracle baby had gone to heaven just the day before they planned to welcome her into their family via scheduled C-section. Within me are feelings of concern, compassion, sympathy, empathy and I-don't-even-know-what-to-call-this-depth-of-despair/it's-so-scary-I-can't-even-go-there-yet.
Sometimes life isn't fair. Sometimes it takes a wild turn from unfair to downright cruel. Sometimes I can't explain exactly why, if there is a benevolent God, He would allow a woman nearly 40 weeks to bond with a baby - to get so close - and then force her to deliver it stillborn. No explanation I've ever heard makes this make sense to me.
And while none of these things are happening directly to me, I can't help but hurt deeply and intensely for these people I care about. I am in my little nest sitting on a chair in Ada's room listening to her sleep, drinking tea and trying to make sense of it all. How will I explain things like this to her when she's old enough to understand that something really bad is happening to someone else? What will I teach her to do for others when they are hurting so deeply? And, the worst to imagine because I recognize how inevitable it is, what will I do when something heart-breaking happens to her?
I have a hard time explaining it to myself or knowing what to do. You can't hug someone from 3000 miles away but it hardly seems to matter. Hell, I can turn around and hug my friend who is watching the life she was dreaming of dissolve before her eyes. And I have. But it didn't fix anything. God knows, that's what I want to do: fix it, make him take it back, rewind the hands of time so that it wasn't a day too late. I can't do it. Neither can anyone else.
Some things just hurt like hell and will continue to hurt like hell for a long time. It's horrible to watch someone you love have to walk a path of hardship alone. To want so, so badly to bear their cross for them for a while. It occurs to me that the stupid old saying is right: there are battles in life that nobody else can fight for you. At the core of all the supportive people lifting you up, in some ways you are still on your own. That sounds so fatalistic and hopeless when I re-read it. But I think that anyone who has suffered a great loss or a crushing set-back knows what I mean.
So what is there to do? The only thing I can think to do is continually reach out and offer over and over again to do anything they need. But maybe right now they don't know what they need. Not running away, not avoiding. Remembering that painful day in the future. Speaking with sensitivity. Send a thoughtful gift, a nurturing and supportive gesture.
What am I missing? What do you do for a loved one who is hurting? How do you explain these kinds of things to your kids?