I am thinking today of a conversation from a couple months ago. Like me, the friend with whom I was speaking has been going through a drawn-out, difficult issue.
We spoke of how it feels to have every part of our lives affected, either directly or indirectly. Of how everyone in our lives has paid a price, even if they are unaware of the situation.
She told me about days when she truly felt as if she could not go one any longer. I feel compelled to share what she said because it struck me hard, and made me wonder how many others feel this way.
My friend spoke of waking on certain mornings and thinking it might be her last day. She goes about her business, doing what is required of her, but with an ongoing thought that she would never repeat that action.
She looks at trees and a beautiful sky with renewed appreciation.
She watches people play with their children or walk their dogs, and she wants to stop and tell them how precious those moments are.
She talks to people, but is secretly wondering how each of them would feel if they found out tomorrow that she was gone. Her family. Her friends. Her coworkers. Will they be surprised? Angry? Disappointed?
My friend knows she can call her therapist at any time...and sometimes she does. But there are days when she simply wants to be gone.
What struck me is how often she thinks about it, all the while putting one foot in front of the other, getting through a day.
She never makes a concrete plan for going, although there are times when she tells herself if she can just make it a couple more days, if she can just fulfill a couple commitments, then maybe she will leave.
Two things struck me about this conversation. First is the incredible strength my friend has. The pressure of her situation is so great that she is often in tears when she lays down at night and again five minutes after waking.
Yet she successfully maneuvers through her day. She maintains a home, shops, cares for an aging parent, volunteers, works - all the time dragging around a stone that is threatening her existence.
The second thing that strikes me is how little we know about the people around us. My friend doesn't wear her struggle like a badge. She rarely tells anyone she thinks about being gone.
She smiles at store clerks, leaves great tips, is friendly in traffic. She is affable and hard-working. She loves to make people laugh.
But underneath, she carries this heavy thought. And no one knows.
How many folks are there in her shoes?
Are we open to seeing people's pain?
Do we look in their eyes?
Do we judge without knowing the circumstance?
This world is full of hurting people. My friend is one of them.
And often we don't have any idea the depth of that pain.
I am not naive enough to say we should be sweet, hold hands and sing Kumbaya, and the world would be better.
Given what my friend told me, she would no doubt be singing loudly, all the while in pain.
I don't have a solution...didn't expect to have one when I started the piece.
I simply felt the need to share.
Maybe you are like my friend - amazingly strong, very susceptible. Blessings to you and prayers for continued strength to hold on until the resolution comes.
If you aren't that person, there is a reason you are still reading this post.
I would ask you to open your mind and heart, pray, about if there is someone in your life that needs an encouraging word.
People are close to the edge. We may not always see it clearly, but they are there, hanging on...not knowing if they have the strength or desire to continue.
Will you join me in being open to peoples' hurts? I hope so.
We will talk tomorrow...