Pain

The quote at the end of this post has absolutely no relation to my own life right now.  Other than a bad case of I-stayed-up-too-late-last-night exhaustion, my life is about as close to perfect as it could be for this moment.  But the quote fits very well with what I know about pain.  It must be felt.  We wouldn’t be ourselves without it.  I’m not speaking of physical pain, of course, but the pain of life. 

Both kinds are different for everyone, I’m sure.  For me, physical pain is not as bad as the anticipation of it, and by the time there is pain, it must simply be waited out and endured.  Example, I got hurt at midnight ultimate frisbee a few weeks ago.  I’ve been scared of running into someone at such a high speed on the field for as long as I’ve played.  Well, not scared exactly, just averse to the idea, I guess.  I get all distracted and recoil away from the person running at me, and therefore I lose the possibility of catching the frisbee.  Well, that night, another player and I were running, not paying attention to the other, and crashed right into each other.  His teeth dug into my collarbone, believe it or not, and I bounced off him and landed hard on the ground.  I felt like I had been blindsided from the left by a brick wall.  It hurt so badly I immediately burst into tears, which of course freaked everyone out, but, yes, I am that girl.  🙂  I couldn’t have reacted differently.  Yes, it hurt, and for several days afterwards.  But it wasn’t a big deal.  It was done.  The crash had happened, now it was just a matter of waiting and enduring until it healed.  And now, I’m not so much nervous about crashing into people anymore.  We’ve all grown in our skills, because we’ve been playing for awhile.  But also, I feel braver and more tenacious on the field.  I want to go after that frisbee.  As Mike told me last night, “You’re more of a threat on the field than you used to be.”  Thanks, Mike!  How’s that for this very un-sportsy girl???  🙂

As a sidenote, I so much appreciate Mike’s care and concern that night!  I hope I never forget it.  The guy who ran into me apologized to Mike, which I thought was very sweet, and Mike said, “That’s okay, she’s tough.”  But he also let me be not-so-tough, and took care of me, and gave me a long, sweet hug goodnight, (despite the fact I had just been bitten by another man!  Ha!), and called me later to make sure I was okay.  If I had written some sort of “if I am hurt, this is what I need” direction manual, I could not have done it better than what Mike did for me.

The other kind of pain, life pain, generally comes with a bit of sweetness for me.  I don’t like funerals, who does, but if I’m saying goodbye to someone I was close to, or comforting someone I am close to, the experience isn’t without it’s dose of healing.  For the next few days or weeks, I just want to keep thinking about the entire experience, from the time I found out about the loss.  Example, my Grandpa’s funeral.  Timelines are lost, but the little details of the experience remain.  I lived in an apartment at college with Tara and Chad, it was summertime, my Mom called to tell me he was in the hospital.  At some later point, she called to tell me that he had died.  I was sitting in my living room for both these conversations.  At some later time, I was sitting on my bed talking to my Mom on the phone, and I was working through the “but where did he go?” feelings, and crying, and Tara came in and sat next to me while I talked to my Mom.  I will never forget that comfort, of her just sitting with me.  I went home to my parents’ house, and right when I got there, my Dad and brother got home from getting haircuts, and there were hugs and kisses all around.  My Dad wanted me to give a eulogy, and he and I sat in the living room in front of the computer writing it and talking about Grandpa and Grandma until late in the night.  The neighbor brought over a banana cream pie, and we tried to convince my sister Megan that it’s okay to put bananas in a pie!  🙂  A good friend of the family sent a breakfast casserole for the day of the funeral.  The evening of the wake, my Grandma and Grandpa on my Mom’s side came out and we sat with them during the prayers.  Another great comfort.  I felt like if we were little kids, and Mom and Dad had to sit with the aunts and uncles, but Grandma and Grandpa were there to take care of us.  I found that Tara, Chad, Becky, and Blake had sent a plant to the funeral home.  At the church, I found my aunt Betty and uncle Dean, who are from my Mom’s side of the family, and again felt like someone was there to take care of me if my parents were busy.  Right before the funeral, the family was lining up to walk past the casket and say our goodbyes, and my sister Sarah and I held hands for a moment as we walked into the room with the casket.  At the burial, it was a perfect day, warm but not too hot, clear blue sky.  My brother helped carry the casket.  My cousin’s wife hugged me and we talked about our good memories of Grandpa.  At the luncheon, I told Betty that it bothered me that we prayed and left, but didn’t see the casket being lowered into the ground.  It didn’t feel final.  That was the moment of finality, the experience of closure, that I had been moving toward, and it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t part of what the family got to see.  Betty explained to me that there was a cemetary worker waiting some distance away, and that the funeral director would also wait, and they would do it after the family left.  Again, such comfort!  She heard what I was saying, and somehow knew exactly what I needed.  If I couldn’t see that moment for myself, I needed to know how it would happen.  And then, some months later, Megan and I visited Grandma and Grandpa’s grave, and I got to see for myself the new grass growing over the spot.  It was a sad thing, a hard thing, but those are sweet memories.  The banana cream pie conversation is a good memory, and always will be!  🙂  The rest of the moments, they were painful, and full of sadness, but also full of hope and sweetness.  The pain had to be felt, and with it came comfort.

There are no shortcuts, in life, or in love.  This pain must be felt.  The alternative is much worse.  It’s what makes us special, beautiful, worthy.  The pain of love, that pain is accompanied by something else.  Hope.  With your pain there is hope.  And that is where you are.  Somewhere between agony, and optimism, and prayer.  So, you’re human.  You’re alive.  And that is what we have.

Brothers & Sisters, ending quote from episode “Love Is Difficult”

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 17:25:41

    I love the way you can communicate about Grandpa’s funeral and the grieving process. I am pleased to see that you have been able to take the comfort offered and turn it to good. We will always miss Grandpa and Grandma, but the memories and wisdom they shared with us will always be with us.
    Love always, Mom

    Reply

  2. Tara
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 20:00:28

    I LOVE this post! Very well written!

    Reply

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