Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the other side

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.


TwoGoosMom said...

I am a long time reader and have never commented b/c I was afraid to hurt you with the wrong words and on a much lighter note, because I didn't remember my blogger information. I finally had to go dig it up b/c I wanted to sign today to say a few things.

In relation to today's post, I am so sorry for your Mother's loss. The loss of a pet is no different than the loss of a human when our pet is as beloved as hers was.

I also wanted to comment on your topic of not being able to take away the pain of others. You are so right. So right. It is part of the reason I never signed here, b/c I knew that I couldn't say anything to fix things for you, yet I have always waited and hoped and prayed for something to change for you. (be it fertility related or just peace related) I guess maybe saying something rather than nothing is better in the end. So know that you probably have many, many readers who want to help diminish your pain, but feel helpless and simply don't want to say something cliche' that might upset you.

I also wanted to say that maybe this is another step in the healing process for you. What you feel for your mother, I have no doubt, she has felt for you her entire life and especially as you endured loss after loss. For you, that sentiment is probably very bittersweet and I am so sorry. But to know, in your heart, that so many people, even far off strangers like myself, pray specifically for your pain to be relieved......well, I hope it helps, b/c it is all that I can do.

I love reading your journal. You are an amazing writer and you are witty and honest too. I know that you often have to write about sad things, and I am glad that you have an outlet that might help, or that might help to educate others who are dealing with friends in similar situations.

The thing that amazes me the most though, is that you still TRY....and I know it takes alot of work....but you TRY to maintain your faith and your belief in God. Through my own very different trials with Infertility (not loss) I was weak and I let go of my own faith. I don't know why. I guess I thought that I couldn't be angry at God and still believe at the same time. But you have been, in your own way and completely by accident to you, an inspiration to me to at least attempt to keep believing and to keep living. For me, if you can do it after all that you have endured, then I can do it too.

I am sorry I waited so long to sign...and I am sorry I have used up so much space. You do not have to publish this or can delete it if you wish....I just wanted to reach out and today seemed like the day.

I want so much for you...obvious things, but ultimately, peace in your heart. Thanks for sharing your life with us.....

Hennifer said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's cat!

I think TwoGoosMom said a lot so beautifully.

You have captured something in words here that I don't think I've ever been able to communicate to others or more importantly to myself. I always hate to use the word "empath" because people get all weird around it. I'm not claiming that I am one but I'm often torn down to the bones in the presence of sadness and I've never quite understood it until today

Helplessness... That is what I feel so often because it is so true, the inability to remove pain from those we love.

Thank you for your beautiful words as always

Lori said...

I learned this same lesson after my Dad died. Because while I felt my own tremendous pain over his loss, having to witness the pain of mother was something I was not prepared for. I am ashamed to say that there is a part of me that still shrinks away from her grief a bit. It is hard to know your parent is hurting.

So, not only did I learn that it is hard to watch someone you love be in so much pain, I also gained a lot of empathy for the need to distance yourself from that at times. Not all the time, of course. But I understand better now why it wasn't always easy to be around me back in the dark days.