I don't think I'll ever forget that day, that dreadful first of March. I'd just returned home from a job interview when I received the news that struck down my family. There's hardly (if any) preparation for such things, is there? A longstanding nightmare turns reality, then what? You try to make sense of it but you can't. In words taken from Hamilton, this has been a "suffering too terrible to name."
A bold line distinguishes life before crisis and after. I'm living in the eleventh week following and each week since has been sad, intense, and exhausting. My heart still bleeds out. I've heard life after trauma shapes into a new kind of normal, or something like that. The alterations are significant.
So now, I'm living on a question mark. The surety has faded. I'm less willing to face the pain straight on. Each step on the bridge to healing is a timid one. These feet are dragging and the days are too. Who talks about this?
It's hard to find someone who won't try to fix and direct your pain with hopeful platitudes. And it's even harder to find someone who won't avoid you or your suffering. Lately, I'm uninterested in any of the Christian clichés. Do we toss them around to convince each other we still love and trust Jesus? Is it okay to confess: I'm broken, I'm grieved, I'm struggling? And to say back: I'm broken for you, I'm without words, I'm sorry?
Oddly, I want to push everyone away and hold everyone close. I want to keep myself shielded from further misunderstanding, betrayal, disappointment, so I isolate. I want to be remembered, looked after, supported, so I overshare. I'm not at all graceful in this process.
Trauma changes people on both ends of relationships. It's hard, I know—for both the griever and the griever's friend. Pain is a complex, giant web and we're never the only ones caught in it. How do we choose to stay when leaving looks so easy?
I'm afraid to write publicly because I'm afraid of accumulating more hurt. This suffering is shared, a pain not just my own. Several hearts have been twisted and turned, deceived and diced. To honor them, I can't use details. When is it better to stay off the screen and keep words only for yourself? And when is sharing worth the possible gossip, rejection, or silence?
Along with that, I fear people can sniff out self-pity. I certainly have no use for collecting pity from anyone, including myself. But it's obvious, I do hurt a whole lot. I'm still shocked, not ready to forgive, and only beginning to grieve. What if it's too early to write and I regret it?
Just now, I read this paragraph by Rainer Maria Rilke, the poet and novelist:
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Maybe I'll stop trying so hard to understand. Maybe we don't need reasons for a March first kind of news. Maybe those things will come, but maybe instead there will be God's peace and a certainty of His presence. Could that be enough for all our bleeding hearts?