Saturday, September 25, 2010

The smallest of things

I am prone to bouts of sadness.  Sometimes the smallest things can set me off and even though I know, on an intellectual level, how freaking lucky I am in my life, sometimes I have a hard time shaking off the sadness.

What I've learned is that trying to talk myself out of it doesn't work.  All the logic in the universe cannot counter the deep and impenetrable mire where emotions live.  So I try to give myself permission to feel what I feel.  To name it, to acknowledge the sadness while not letting it define me.

Some times this is easier than others.

It is when I understand. . . no. . . not understand, but experience fully how little control I have over the universe, that the sadness can come over me.

One of my sons had some orthopedic surgery yesterday.  He's fine.  It went well.  But today, he's in quite a lot of pain, despite the pain medications he was given.  I know in my head that the first 24 hours post op will be the worst.  I know in my head that he will feel significantly better tomorrow.  And the day after that and the day after that until he is healed.

I know all that.  I know the typical healing process of ligaments.  Hell, I'm an orthopedic physical therapist as well as had my own experiences of orthopedic injuries and surgery.

And yet. . .

If it was just myself in pain, well, I know what that is.  I can handle it, move through it.  But seeing my son hurt and being powerless to fix it has the power to just about break my heart.  It doesn't matter that he's 17.  Six feet tall.  On the threshold of adulthood.

I still feel like it's my job to make it better.

There are things in this life we don't get to make better.

My dear friend is sitting by her mother's bedside watching her die.  I cannot ease her pain.  But I can bring her over dinner so I know, at least, she has had a home cooked meal and a break from a small, stark room.

I can put an extra pillow beneath my son's arm and make sure to wake him at 11:30 to take his next dose of medication.

I can try to be just that much kinder to the people around me, as they struggle with their own feelings. I can write this as honestly as I can, in hopes of reaching someone who may be struggling too.  And knowing some vague 'you' might be out there, reading these words, nodding, resonating with them, well, somehow that does lighten the sadness.

It is the smallest of things.


  1. It took courage to open yourself like this on your blog. Thanks for sharing and showing us a example of grace under stress. I am ending you and your family and friends lots of healing wishes.

  2. I can't think of anything worse than watching someone you love suffer. It's way easier to suffer yourself. But, if it's someone you love you can't always ease their pain...either physical or emotional. It doesn't end when they become adults...many times we are just impotent to make the hurt go away.

    I'm sure by this time, Philip is feeling better and having Neil around will ease the pressure.

  3. Ann--thank you for your comments. I do strive to be honest and authentic, and if that came through, then I have been true to my core mission. "Grace under stress"--a beautiful thing to say. Thank you.

    Linda--that lesson--that we can't always fix things--is one I keep having to learn over and over. Philip is better, now sporting a black cast that gives him more stability than the post op splint they had him in.

  4. Lisa,
    I appreciate your candor. I, too, suffer from bouts of sadness. I never know what will drag me under, or pull me back up.

    Your postcard poems have inspired me. I've posted a few on my blog:

    Maybe this — the sharing of words — is a small thing that helps, that heals.