Saturday, June 21, 2014


I finished The Fault in Our Stars (by John Green) and along with thousands of others gave it a "two thumps up." It was sad of course. Facing mortality at such a young age seems so wrong. 

But it wasn't the sadness that made me cry, it was those moments when Augustus or Hazel Grace would say something with such clarity that it rang true for all. This line was the one that literally drew my breath away.

"That's the thing about pain," Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. "It demands to be felt."

We all have moments of pain. Twice in my life I have felt pain to the point that it rendered me completely dysfunctional. 

The first time, was nearly 40 years ago when I buried my tiny baby boy. The pain was so intense that it was not only emotional it became physical. I remember thinking that someone had cut my chest open and forgot to sew me up.

Because I had two young children I did keep moving but inside I was a wreak. I kept looking for something to take the pain away. I felt sure if I had another baby it would stop. It took five more years before my "miracle baby" was born... my sweet Annie.

Home from the hospital and alone for a few moments I sat on the bed and just held her. I began to cry... the pain was still there. I realized that as much as I loved her ... she didn't replace him. It would be a lot of years before I finally knew what to do with that pain.

My second bout with pain came when my husband left. I simply went to bed and pretty much didn't get out for weeks. Sleep was the only relief I could find. 

After a couple of months I found a little trick... I would get up around 10:00 am, shower, dress and drive myself to the mall. I would head straight for Nordstrom and buy something beautiful... shoes, jewelry, clothes. Then I would drive home put on my pajamas and go back to sleep.

The rush from shopping would temporarily take the pain away but it was a small band-aid covering a geyser. 

Finally a dear friend sat me down and gave me some wise advise.  She said, speaking of the pain, 

"Don't fight it, just accept it and try to learn from it.  Keep moving and eventually you will walk out the other side."

I followed her advise. Instead of running around like little half-chick, yelling "the sky is falling" I just let it be. I acknowledged it and I went quiet. I kept walking and in time I did walk through it.

I believe "pain" is a great teacher. It can render us bitter, twisted and self absorbed or it can morph us into a better version of ourself with  greater understanding and more compassion for others.

My sweet friend did not just "talk the talk" she had quite literally walked it. She had buried a 20 year old son, who in a moment of despair, took his own life. She knew more than a little about pain. With her compassionate, soft spoken nature she had reached out to help another ... me. 

"Pain demands to be felt" but we are the ones that choose how it will affect us.