Sometimes We Weep
In a few anguished sentences, Kari told me the story:
The expectant, trusting eyes of her young music students turned to her for news. They had been working on a recording project to raise money for treatments for the two toddlers in their community who had brain cancer. The small town had its normal share of celebrations and griefs, but to have two of their youngest stricken with brain cancer was a shock and a bewilderment.
The community rallied round, providing food and emotional support and helping with chores and the necessities of daily living. The musicians, including Kari, worked on a CD which would help ease the financial challenges of the families. Now, today, the kindergarten class was waiting for their teacher to let them know how their young neighbors were doing.
“How do you tell a young child that her friends have died? What do you say to that trusting face – how do you soften the blow he must feel?” I felt the blow to my own heart as Kari poured out these words.
Sometimes, in spite of all our best efforts, we can’t protect the children or their families or ourselves. Sometimes, in the midst of life, death arrives and we have to face its shadowy truths. After she told the children, she blurted out, “I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do!” One of the young students came up and put an arm around her. The words of wisdom from this child reverberated around the room: “Be sad. Just be sad.”
Sometimes the only thing we can do is be sad. Sometimes we need to cry more and hold each other tighter. In the middle of heart-wrenching loss, we can love more deeply and care more fiercely.
For those whose journey is dark and frightening, we can listen, we can let them know we are there. We can offer a shoulder to weep on, allow our own tears to flow to let them know that their pain and fear and grief are shared. When we face our own Dark Nights, we can embrace sorrow along with hope, deep sadness along with love of life. We are big enough to embrace the whole. We can open our arms to the children and weep together.
— Julie Harris, August 20, 2010
— In loving memory and appreciation of my beautiful mother who died two weeks after I originally wrote this, and who was like a child on Christmas morning as she glimpsed the next life. Dearest Mom, the trailblazer ..
Kahlil Gibran, in “The Prophet”, offers words to help us through difficult times:
Then a woman said, ‘Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.’
And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
. . .
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’
and others say, ‘Nay, Sorrow is the greater.’
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come,
and when one sits alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
— Updated January 26, 2013, in memory of those who traveled this road in dignity and beauty and taught us so much along the way: Linda, Steve, John and the lovely lady in the chemo lab whose very essence was courage.