making us stronger

i’m having one of those days when everything makes me cry. mostly they are connecting tears, connecting with someone else’s courage, someone else’s triumph, someone else’s loneliness, someone else’s heartbreak. i can’t stop crying and since there are only a half-dozen people in this world i’ll cry in front of, i’m spending the day alone. i canceled meetings or took them by phone. i got in my car and drove as far and fast away from this town as i could. i went to another city to drop off and pick up things for work. while driving fast and far i cried for the people i hope to help and for the people who are helping me. i cried with the radio. i cried with the cd that plays the song that i listened to on repeat for two years when i was trying not to kill myself. that song was newly released in 2004 when i first heard it. the artist who wrote and recorded the song that carried me through those couple of years now makes bad pop music that plays on the radio and i wonder if she remembers the words to the anthem that kept me alive when i didn’t want to be. i’ve been on suicide watch this week for someone who doesn’t know how to stay alive to rebuild the life that has collapsed around her. i don’t try to talk her out, down, or around her suicidal thoughts because i know the relief that suicidal thoughts can bring when every other thought refreshes the pain pricking behind the eyes, the pain exploding in the center of the skull, the immobilizing pain from clenching the jaw, the empty pain in the hole where the heart has fallen out and been left behind with other debris of one’s former life. i just sit with her. i sit next to her and say nothing. i sit next to her and listen if she wants to talk. i sit next to her and hold her hand, hold her tightly against me when she leans into me, stroke her hair when she lets me. i cry with her while i’m holding her, her head tucked beneath mine so that she can’t see my tears. i can cry silently without letting my nose run and willing my tears to run sideways into my hair. she doesn’t know i’m crying with her, for her, alongside her, but she knows she isn’t alone, even though she feels alone, even though she feels as if no one has ever hurt as much as she’s hurting, as if no one has ever lost what she has lost, as if no one has ever failed the ways she believes she has failed. i know there’s nothing to say to her that will soothe the pain. i can only wait with her, sit with her in the pain, pass her more tissues, and offer comfort food when she’s able to eat. late at night when i’m awake and she’s asleep on the couch with her head in my lap i wonder why i’ve never let anyone sit with me when i was as close to dying as she is. i wonder why she lets me. then i remember that when we’re feeling incomprehensible pain, we don’t actually want to die, we only want to stop the pain. she doesn’t have to hold the pain alone. i’m here with her, sitting next to her and holding the pain that she’s willing to share. if you pay attention, you’ll find an opportunity today to sit with someone and hold whatever that one needs help carrying. you are strong enough to help someone and helping someone else makes you stronger.

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About angel joy

love is an action verb. i live love in action.
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