I had dinner with my childhood best friend. It was wonderful! We have not kept in touch well over the years but have always had a positive regard for one another.
Tonight as we were catching up we shared the inconsequential happenings and the significant events. Marriage, kids, families, jobs… Our conversation drifted.
Her mom has cancer.
My dad has Alzheimer’s.
We both talked about the reality of reordering our lives so we can be present for our parents, and we casually talked about the end of life realities that are coming, though we don’t know the timing. (What is it they say about death and taxes?!)
Neither of us cried or acted pitiful. We just talked. And it was good, sweet to connect.
We told each other that these situations with our parents sucked. And somehow, in the acknowledgement of “that sucks,” we found a healing.
Sometimes when we talk about what’s happening in our lives, even the permanent loss of a parent, and it doesn’t sound the way it feels.
“My mom has cancer” doesn’t acknowledge the rage against helplessness as a strong and confident woman is ravaged by flesh-eating cells.
“My dad has Alzheimer’s” doesn’t embrace the way my heart shatters when my dad asks me to label photos of his grandkids so he can remember them in the days to come when he becomes confused.
We don’t have the words , the ability, to communicate over a simple meal the depth of emotion taking place in the background of a statement of fact.
Because there are no words that will make it feel better.
What I discovered tonight, however, is that “I’m sorry. That really sucks,” is a valid, pure response to these things we can’t process or understand. That helps us wrap our heads around troubles in a way that is practical and supportive.
There aren’t words that will make these struggles “better.” But having someone hold your hand and acknowledge the depth of disappointment with a simple statement – “that sucks” – is amazingly comforting.
Somehow it takes a yucky situation and turns it into something that will make you stronger instead of kill you, you become comrades with the listener.
I will be writing more about this idea, especially how a community of facebook friends can provide authentic support… but I’m stopping here for tonight.
What are the most comforting words you’ve received when you’re hurting?