Friday, October 2, 2009

Standing Guard

"When we're on the wrong track there are always people who can help us find our way. When we've lost something precious there are people who can comfort us. There are people standing guard, watching out for us, who understand us; sometimes we don't even know their names. We are fellow wanderers, and there's an instinct we have to help each other. I think when it comes down to it, most of us are coming from the same place." ~ Marty Halverson

Marty is right, and reading this quote, it (just how right she is) hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Or a 2x4. Or a lightning bolt. Or a World Class Chocolate ice cream cone (my personal favorite). It made me re-examine my life and look at my darkest, loneliest moments in a whole new way.

It also made me realize that I have been there for people in their darkest hours. What follows is a repost, a time when I was able to comfort (although there many more instances when others have stood watch over me).

Originally posted October 9, 2008 (once again this woman keeps coming to mind and I know that I need to call her - maybe more for me than for her):

Today was a phone day - the kind when you hang up the phone and it instantly rings again. When you answer it, the cell phone goes off and they are both important, repeat ad infinitum. It doesn't happen very often. In fact, my phone is usually very quiet.

But in the middle of fielding these calls and canning another round of salsa, I had one hour of a tender mercy.

I picked up the other phone and heard the voice of someone who has been on my mind this past year. I don't even know how to describe the effect her call had on me, but it was wonderful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. She is the mother of a son with disabilities who died over a year and a half ago.

I had felt that I should call her or send her a note these past few months, but part of me felt that it would somehow be the wrong thing to do. I didn't want to remind her of her loss or cause her any pain. I just didn't want to say the wrong thing. I realize now how very foolish those thoughts are. She called me today and we grieved together.

The loss of a child isn't something that ever leaves you. It's not like a scraped knee - a little blood, a little pain and then bam! a couple weeks later it heals, leaving only a faint scar and you're over it. Caring for a child day in and day out who is so dependent on you is amazing and hard and AMAZING. They become an integral part of your life, they are your life. And when that is gone it is a very real, painful loss.

It is a hole in your heart, an aching that doesn't go away. That ache may subside and ease a little from time to time, but it will always be present, throbbing in the background. Even the faith we have in the plan our Savior has for us, the knowledge that we can be reunited after death cannot take that pain away. It is part of being human, part of being a mother, part of being in a family.

What this dear friend reminded me is to take each moment and cherish it because it doesn't come again. Each day with your child (no matter how hard) is a memory to store up against the future.

She is who I want to be: grace under pressure, shelter from the storm, one who loves unconditionally, and ultimately a woman who finds her strength in God and trusts in Him completely. I am blessed to be touched by her tender, giving heart, and to have her example of faith in my life.

After the talk I gave last night, I realized that I am terrible at following my own advice. One of the most painful things for my friend is that no one would talk about her son, and if she brought him up there was mostly an awkward silence, a trite response, a look away and then someone would change the subject. And I knew, I just knew I needed to call her - for an ENTIRE year. But I continually brushed away the thought until she finally called me. At least I had the good sense to drop everything (salsa be damned) and listen.

It is never the wrong thing to follow-through on an impression, be it a generous thought or an act of service. That is not to say that your act of service will always be well-received, but you will have been there for someone. You will have made yourself available and you never know when someone in need might willingly reach out for the lifeline you've thrown them - even if that lifeline is only a phone call, a note, a vase of flowers, a hug, or a well-timed email.

School for you?


Kristina P. said...

I think that people never know what to do when someone is dealing with a loss.

I was at dinner with a friend last night, who recently lost her dad, and she was talking about how all these people she hadn't talked to came out of the wordwork, all of a sudden, and how she needed their kind words.

sue-donym said...

Thank you for sharing this. I constantly need to be reminded to act on my impressions.
You are awesome.

Kimberly said...

This is an area where I so often falter, and yet the thoughts and insights you've shared aren't unfamiliar..just...conveniently forgotten. Many, many thanks for the reminder.

Travelin'Oma said...

I have a couple of dear friends who have both lost children, and a sister who's husband died of cancer. I've realized they never forget, so there's no reason to worry I'll remind them of their loss. They actually hope that others will remember their loved one and they like to talk about them.

I think we gain so much from one another's experiences. I've learned alot from reading your blog about your son. It's great that there is a way to share our challenges and gain insight and empathy.

Emma J said...

Okay,your post was the last straw (the good kind). I'be been thinking about an old friend for several weeks and walking past her old house this morning had been worrying about her again - should I call? should I stop by? would she want me to? - your post gave me the push to get up and at least leave a msg on the machine.