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Saturday, January 2, 2010

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

I feel like an inordinate number of my friends are going through really hard things right now. And, honestly, to label what they're going through "really hard" trivializes their suffering to a point that I'm not comfortable with. Calculus tests are really hard. Biking up hills is really hard.

What they're dealing with is more along the lines of...something I don't have words for.

I don't want just to increase the intensity of my own words. Replace "really hard" with "extremely tough" and then replace that with "extraordinarily difficult." I feel like I'm not saying anything anymore.

All I really know is what they're going through seems unjust and overwhelming. Those don't seem like adjectives to which I can attach a magnitude.

And I just feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines, trying to encourage them but really being of no help at all.

I was thinking about this last night and remembered a poem that I found during my senior year of high school. It better describes how I am feeling than any words I can come up with.

In the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit
By Brooke Horvath

We are the children here, hesitant
to speak or touch, afraid of reprimand.
The nurses, doctors are adult; they tell us
to wash our hands, to be careful; they
say that everything will be all right;
they remind us when it’s time for bed, where
dreams fill with monitors that stop alarmed,
intravenous tubing, and disembodied cries like clues
dropping amid the tears and gauze
through which your eyes, Susan stare
blindly, your dry mouth working soundlessly.

Susan, if I could, I would hurt instead
with a clean, hard, physical pain, would take
this needle into my larger, drying vein
and have my stomach aspirated, which finds,
like yours, nothing but itself to work upon.
I would breathe through your congested lungs,
escaping this nauseous sickness of heart
that draws me back to stroke your red and jaundiced head
so new it shows the shape of birth, the stain
and strain of passage, to lift and hold your tiny hand
that does not feel or know me, though you hold
my life unstably as your own, as I would
hold yours, though tightly, tightly,
though not so tight you’d bruise or break.

It seems weird to say that I feel this way. Obviously none of my friends are babies, and I am their peer rather than their mother. But Brooke Horvath managed to capture what it feels like to watch someone you love suffer and to know that you are completely powerless to help her. She captured what it feels like to wish you could just pick up someone else's burden and strap it on your own back but to know that you can't.

I find myself saying the same things over and over to these girls.

I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you. I'm so sorry. I love you. I hope it gets better. I'm praying for you.

After a while, I don't feel like my words mean anything anymore. They are like worn out blue jeans or something. Blue jeans always seem sturdy enough at the beginning, like you'll get a lot of good use out of them. Gradually, the hems begin to fray, but you keep wearing them. One day, you notice that the knees are pretty threadbare, and before you know it, your jeans don't have knees at all and need to be thrown away because they're not really serving their purpose anymore. I feel like my words themselves are threadbare at this point, ready to be retired because they are no longer serving their purpose.

So now I'm powerless to help and wordless to encourage, and all I know is:

It wasn't supposed to be this way. And, wow, satan sucks.

1 comment:

Please and thank you.

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