I remember

It’s been a rough, emotional week. I love many people who are actively suffering, confused, hurt, angry, and who can’t see their way out, can’t seem to get unstuck.

As someone who wants to help, to serve, it is incredibly painful to not be able to do anything, to not be able to fix it, to know that I can’t save them.

Even worse is that I can’t simply stand by and watch, untouched. Their pain, their poison seeps into me, into my porous heart, and I suffer too. I try to care for myself, but my chest and stomach cramp and ache, my heart and head hurt, I can’t sleep, and my right eye twitches for an entire day.

And within the past 24 hours, we’ve had difficulties with our boys. We discovered that Sam has Discoid Lupus Erythematosus, (a benign form of systemic lupus, a form of autoimmune disease, which manifests as loss of pigment on his nose, and dry, irritated, raw spots), and Dexter sprained his tail, (Limber tail syndrome, or acute caudal myopathy, a disorder of the muscles in the tail, usually affecting working dogs, also known as Cold Water Tail, Broken Tail, Dead Tail or Broken Wag).

It makes me so sad to see either of them hurt, but the real issue is that recognition of their pain leads to the realization, the remembering that they are mortal–some day they will die, and I will lose them. Our direct relationship, our time together is limited, we are impermanent.

And then there is another remembering, of those already gone and of the loss of them. Two years ago, Kelly was sent home from the hospital and those of us who loved her knew that the end was coming. We entered an awful season of waiting. It only lasted a few days, but it was also eternal, and in so many ways, it’s still happening.

Then and now, there is something so bizarre about the new life of Spring, the return to green, the flowering, the soft earth, the clear blue sky, the bird songs and baby animals, the soft warm new body of the whole thing in contrast with the blackness, the blindness of loss, the grief, the wailing and crying and disbelief, the emptiness, the suffering, the wreck and the broken, the raw of the rest.

That is life though, isn’t it? The horrific brutality and the precious brilliance. A cat smashed on the road, twisted, broken, someone’s lost soft love, and a butterfly resting on a flower, its wings folding and unfolding as it feeds, as it floats from bloom to bloom, drawn by their scent and their sweetness. There is bad in the world, life is brutal, and there is good in the world, life is beautiful–Life is precious, because it is both beautiful and brutal.

I remember…

4 thoughts on “I remember

  1. Laura Thomas

    Thanks for reminding me to remember, Jill. Spring finals week has never been the same for me since 2009, when I went to visit my dad for the last time, and he died on his 70th birthday. I haven’t taken the time to remember him adequately this year. Now I will.

  2. pittsburghphd

    I hope you soon find a way to focus more on the beautiful and less on the brutal. I have been thinking a lot lately about a couple I know who have been trying to get pregnant for over a year without success. They would be the most wonderful parents and it seems so unfair. It makes me think back to my own challenges with pregnancy and makes me feel lucky to have Lucia, but it also reminds me of how fragile my luck is—that I could easily be the childless one. I think the brutal in the world helps us to be more thankful for the beautiful. It is too easy to take things for granted, to forget how lucky we are in so many areas despite the fact that it is all impermanent. It reminds me of Patti Digh’s “Carry a Small Grape” story. I think children cherish small, fragile objects because it is their way of learning to embrace the brutal and the beautiful, the fragility of life.


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