This morning the phone rang before 8 am. It was a friend. A kind, wise friend who I adore. I don't get to see her very often or talk to her much though she lives just a few doors away. She is one of those friends who I could call and she would drop everything to help me and even though I don't enjoy a daily interaction with her, I know she loves me. I know she understands even when I don't have the words to explain it.
How do I know? She calls me, unexpectedly, like today, to check on me, to leave me with something to think about or lift me up. She seems to call when I most need to hear her voice. She listens to the promptings of the Spirit.
Monday evening I left the soccer field a bit shaken after having a conversation with my Mother in Law about cancer. Her friend is undergoing chemo, so I took a moment to explain my dad's regimen to her. My in-laws are good people who I am sure care for me. But they fail to inquire about my dad or even about how I am doing under the weight of this anvil. It's the proverbial elephant in the room. But the lack of discussion does not dismiss the constant ache I carry in my heart.
Yesterday my sister in law called, also to check in on me. Having lost her own dad a few years ago, she understands all too well the many nuances of this trial, big and small. She is a constant source of support and enlightenment to me. I expressed my frustration to her and my sadness that my mother in law didn't seem to understand my dad's prognosis. She kindly explained to me that life experience effects our behavior. Truly, some people don't understand what to do or say until they have experienced something similar.
I immediately thought back to an experience I had last week while at Nordstrom. Sitting on the couch was a girl I know, deep in conversation on her cell phone. I knew she had recently done IVF and was anxiously awaiting the results of her pregnancy test. The first thing I noticed were the tears brimming in her eyes and threatening to spill out onto her cheeks. Such raw emotion in a public place and in that moment I knew. I knew how she wouldn't choose to cry in the shoe department of Nordstrom, but I also knew how she couldn't contain the pain of her experience. I knew her results. I knew her heartache. I reached out to her and gave her a hug. We did not exchange words. We didn't have to. She knows that I understand.
At the studio where Rachel takes tumbling there are five words painted on the otherwise lackluster white walls. They read "I CAN DO HARD THINGS.". Many times I hear Rachel's teacher repeating this mantra to her students. Now I find myself repeating it to myself. I can do hard things.
The truth is every day I get up and get through the day. I have children relying on me and responsibilities to keep. I really don't have the luxury of wallowing in the grief that I feel. Tony comments on how strong I am, as do so many of my closest friends. But truthfully, I cry every day. Every single day. Sometimes it's just a tear or two which sneaks out while I pray for my dad. Some days I sob in the shower where no one will hear me. Many times it is in the middle of the night when I am unable to clear my mind of childhood memories which come to me in my dreams. Each day I go on because I know that I can do hard things.
This week has brought a new perspective. Perhaps one of the hardest things we can do is to step outside of our comfort zone and reach out to those who most need our support. I am grateful for my trials. I am grateful for these most difficult life experiences which have ingrained compassion in my soul. Mostly I hope that one day when the roles are reversed and I have the opportunity to reach out to someone that I will do so with courage and purpose. I hope I will remember to worry less about my own awkwardness and more about soothing another's troubled heart. I hope I remember that I can do hard things.