Last Wednesday my Mom and Dad had to put their 15-year old cat to sleep after he suffered what they suspect was a stroke.
My Mom called in tears to give me the news, and my heart tore into a thousand pieces listening to her cry over the phone, her voice small and broken.
I went over the next day just to be with them - to make sure they were okay and to try to cheer them up and distract them as best I could. And for the first time since Thomas died I realized what a useless feeling it is not to be able to take away someone's pain.
I didn't know. Somehow I didn't realize.
I have appreciated every single gesture - every brave word, every card, every donation, every flower, every carefully chosen gift, every mention of his name. Not one single thing anyone has ever done for me - for us - since Thomas died has gone unappreciated. Ever.
But I didn't realize until I sat there helplessly watching my Mother cry over her lost Paddington Bear that those gestures were made out of both love and desperation. Because there's absolutely nothing you can do to take away the pain of someone's loss.
And you can't know that until you try. And fail.
I know I was able to comfort them a little with my presence, but I also know that my Mother probably cried herself to sleep thinking about how increasingly small and fragile their world is becoming; about the tragedies they've witnessed and the losses they've endured. And about the little cat she said goodbye to that day.
And it breaks my heart. Over and over and over again, it breaks my heart.