October 2, 2013 in Jenn
My heart is breaking for my friend.
So much so that I cannot write. At least not about all of the things I should be writing about: traveling, mothering, walking, you know, my usual topics. All I can think about is her suffering and how much I wish I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away. But it’s never that easy is it?
The Buddhists say that all of life is suffering.
When I was younger I would have rolled my eyes and argued that to the death. I have come to understand.
She’s standing at a fork in the road, holding the hands of her babies and trying to see far enough down darkened paths, past the curves in the roads to what’s on ahead. One path: wide enough only for her to take. The other plenty wide for her loved ones, but no room for her. They are both dark. They are both lonely in their own ways. There is no way for her to win. She cannot stay where she is. She must walk forward, she must choose a path.
We must all choose a path.
Continuously. There are branches every day, Y’s in the road, we choose; sometimes without thinking, sometimes with much deliberation, sometimes wisely, sometimes selfishly, sometimes foolishly, sometimes blindly, in a leap of faith.
The poem makes it sound lovely…
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…
I’ve yet to come to a fork in a yellow wood, but I’ve stood at plenty in the dark in the desert.
My heart is heavy today.
For my friend. For me. For a whole basketful of people I love dearly and have walked hard paths with, sometimes carrying one another to get over the hardest parts. My friend cried with relief today, that I didn’t judge her harshly. Instead we hugged across the miles and wept together. I will hold the mirror for her, as has been done for me, for as long as it takes for her to see herself clearly and see the path behind her as well as ahead, and find perspective. Is there any other path but compassion worth walking together?
Perhaps you’re suffering too.
Perhaps you’re getting up in the morning, swallowing a huge lump of sorrow, putting on a brave face and making life happen, for yourself, for your children, for your loved ones. Perhaps every breath is a struggle. Perhaps you know that it will never be the same and never be okay and that very knowledge unhinges your soul. Perhaps you believe that you’re the only one, that no one else could possibly understand. Perhaps you think that you’re the only one to have walked this path, to have waded hip deep through hell, to have wondered if it really might kill you.
My friend is where you are. I am there with her. Others have been there with me. We are all there together, I think. No one gets out of this life easily. No one is without their private grief. No one is immune to the suffering. The strong learn how to go on. We must be strong together. We must hold hands and hearts, link arms and souls, and get through this as a team. We must stop pretending everything is okay.
This world is profoundly not okay, and sometimes life is more than we can walk alone.
And so we suffer together. We shoulder that giant stone in our chests and we begin to create our own happinesses, individually and collectively. We sing to remember, we drink to forget, we laugh in the face of the darkness, and we take the next step.
I wish I could hug my friend today. It’s days like this that the world seems very big indeed and I feel very far away. We need to take a real walk, the kind that take so long that salt crystals form on our cheeks from the windblown tears and we have enough time to cry it all out and find the humor in it at the end. Or if not the humor, at least the sisterhood.
Today feels like walking over very hard ground.