Last week, I had dinner with a friend. One of those rare friends who actually understands some part of me that very few people understand. This friend and I share the grief of the loss of our parents. I only have a few friends like this. But, this friend... well, I don't think that I have ever met anyone like him.
But, what we share is our grief. I lost my mother when I was 7. I feel like I talk about this a lot. It is the defining moment in my life. It's the one thing in my life that has determined how everything else has turned out. But, as this friend alluded, I don't share the most intimate reality of this loss. I'll talk about it every so often. But after twenty years of loss, I'm not sure how to talk about it. Moreover, I'm not sure that anyone cares.
This is what I had told my friend: I'm not sure that anyone cares. Last week, he reminded me that I was wrong. People need to hear this story, he said. I didn't really take these words to heart. Though I trust his wisdom, I didn't really know what to do with this truth.
And I know he's right. I know it so well. But, the truth is that I'm not sure how to share this part of me. Over the past twenty years, I can talk about grief. I talk about it like it is. But, I forget to allow myself to feel it. Once a year on my mother's anniversary, I allow myself to let go. I do a ritual. I share a story. I do something to remember and actually speak my pain. But, the rest of the time, I don't think anyone really cares.
Does anyone care? Of course they do. Sure they do. But, having spent this past week wandering around a hospital to simply begin the process of thinking about caring and walking with patients, I'm overwhelmed. And today I finally cried. I cried for the number of times that I have seen my mother's face in that hospital. I cried for the memories that are creeping into my thoughts -- things that have remained buried for over twenty years. I cried for the 7 year-old kid inside me that still doesn't know what to do with the pain in her heart. And I have no idea how to share this. I feel crazy to not be able to stop crying. I feel childish for allowing myself to be overcome with emotion. How in the world can I be a professional chaplain, even for 10 weeks?
Of course you care. And thank you. But, I don't want to hear how hard it must have been. I don't even really want to be encouraged with how hard it must be now. I've reverted to the 7 year-old little girl that just wants everything to be OK. And how do I share this? How can I share this without being the irrational little girl? And will it help anyone but me? And what happens when the tears just won't stop? There is no way to be rational. I'm a hurting 7 year-old girl all over again. Oh Jesus. Help me.