I went to a baby shower today. The beautiful young mother-to-be has been a close friend of my daughter since they were in the fourth grade, and I love her like one of my own. Gathered all together in a large and beautiful room were some of the people who have caused the deepest, most excruciating pain in my life; along with people whom I love dearly, all mingling over coffee and brunch and gifts.
It was hard.
Never sure who is being kind because they want to, or polite because they made eye contact and have to, and always uncomfortable in groups and gatherings, I felt big, awkward and nervous, and very much in the way. At 5’10” tall, with nearly three acres of arms and legs, it’s hard to find a place to hide sometimes. I tower over the pastors’ wife (a petite and pretty blonde) like a Neanderthal giant. I swear I think she’s afraid of me. I have never, in all these years, had an encounter with her that didn’t leave me feeling completely and utterly humiliated.
Some days simply have too much pain in them. Way too much.
Time doesn’t heal; it numbs. I watched as a grieving couple who had lost their child was interviewed on a talk show last year. When asked how they had been able to “move on” the father said, “You only move forward on the outside. You take a shower every day because you have to. You go to work because you have to.” What else is there to do? I’m no more healed than I was five years ago when everything happened, although I can dress it up as well as anybody (I hope). People get impatient with grief when it’s not their own. They get tired of the fact that you’re not “over it” and “better”, although nobody seems to be able to describe what “better” actually looks like. It gets embarrassing to admit you’re not, so the best thing to do, especially at events like these, is to pretend that you are and secretly hope you eventually will be. Where are the ruby slippers when you need them?
Whenever someone gets married, or has a baby, or, Heaven forbid, dies, we all come together and eat cake.
Why do we do this?
I think about the young, beautiful mother-to-be and realize we do it because we’re happy for her. We love her. Everything else gets pushed aside because of love. It’s what love does – it covers. It doesn’t undo all of the bad that has happened in the past, but knows that the people we love are more important than the issues, and that there is a time to forgive, and yes, to move forward. And it’s okay if you can only do it on the outside for now; sometimes just getting yourself moving can pull the rest of you along eventually. We are only as healthy as our relationships, and digging our heels in waiting for an apology only gets our shoes dirty. Sometimes we have to settle for a partial healing, which, all things considered, is better than nothing. I can say today was a taste of what healing would feel like, but I still have an uneasy feeling about who’s sincere and who isn’t. I honestly can’t tell. I do know that I don’t think I will ever be able to fully trust or believe anyone ever again, no matter how hard I try, or how nice they seem to be.
The best thing to do with a day like today is to pull the blinds, drink my tea and crawl into bed, trusting God to help me to face it all again tomorrow. I don’t have any anger or hard feelings towards anyone who was at the shower today, only a deep, relentless sadness that doesn’t ever, ever go away. It’s far too late to fix any of it; too much time has passed, and the people who need to care don’t care anymore.
So, we move forward. We walk with a limp, but we walk. We get up, take a shower, and do it all again tomorrow, by the grace of God, and with His help. Only with His help. His mercies are new every morning, and who knows? Tomorrow could be a surprisingly good day.