I never thought of myself as weepy until a couple of years ago.
The circumstances of all that are almost to the point of boring even me, but it's a funny thing to continue to carry an indelible permanence especially when the general consensus seems to be that it's far time to have moved on, to appreciate what is and to cool it with the dwelling in the past.
In my case, I am reminded frequently how very lucky and very loved I am. And it's true, every word of it. It is no stretch to look at my life and see and maybe even envy a wonderful enduring relationship, a precious family, a meaningful job, amazing friends, a cozy house, money in the bank, competence and talent and skills, even a quirky playfulness and wit that sometimes I find myself enjoying my own company.
And yet count me among those who sit and weep. I have no justification for why I can not wrestle the past to the ground. It's not as though I don't do the work, don't help myself understand that sometimes things are just the way they are. It's not as if I'm unable to accept that the heart decides who will reside in its chambers.
I've now written four paragraphs and I haven't yet explained why I am writing any of this today.
This is why: it's hard to witness and support the pain of another over and over again. It's especially hard when it seems like the person isn't doing much to help her/himself. Even harder when you can see that holding on to some one or some thing is emotionally, physically, or spiritually harmful to that person. It's hard to hang in, be patient, be willing to hold and honor and listen to what another cannot yet do for her/himself. It's hard not to judge.
When I was in New Orleans three weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I was on the neighborhood streets of Saint Bernard County when families returned to their destroyed homes for the first time. Many spent all day digging through 12 to 18 feet of mud and sludge to retrieve what little might have survived: a glass vase, a Tuperware bowl--something, anything--that was part of the life they had.
I was there, on those streets, and all I could do was to bear witness. I looked at the pictures they showed me of their former back yard, the flower beds, the kids sitting on the front stoop of their modest brick home. I handed out water and I witnessed the life they had lost. It wasn't much, but I knew then and I know now that being there counted for something.
I am so grateful for the special people who care and listen and allow me to wallow again and again. I hope I give that back. But sometimes for my own reasons I have to say 'enough'. Sometimes I become concerned that I enable. Probably those who become impatient with me are concerned about that too.
But mostly, in the past couple of years, I have learned that listening is a far greater treasure than solving; and witnessing is far more helpful than advising.
The worse criticism my little Mr. Ryan, age 3 almost 4, will ascribe these days when he's upset is that someone is a Bad Listener!