Whether with words, letters, hugs, or gifts, the ability to express oneself to another is perhaps the greatest gift of all. Just in this past hour, I’ve had the great privilege of helping my kids get ready for their day. Where on many occasions I find myself at whatever cost scrambling to get them through the doors of their school on time, today was different. I was able to exude in my presence a sense of peace, gentleness, and love. As they exited the car, I wished them a great day, assuring to them with a look of promise and delight, “I love you guys!!” Sitting down at my cafe of choice, I did what I always do before getting to my day’s “work”. I messaged my wife to see if she got to work safely. And as always, I felt a sense of relief and gratitude. Upon sending her some messages of affection and assurance, along with a humorous meme or two, here I am find myself on my laptop doing with you what we so often take for granted. Express ourselves. Communicate.
Watching the unraveling of my sister-in-law’s body and being at the hands of cancer has not been easy. So much so that I now feel a part of that special community which exists only for those who have experienced it up close and personally. Pain, fear, weakness, nausea, discomfort, anxiety… Faith, hope, anxiety, joy, hopelessness, anxiety, faith, joy, hope, faith… STROKE… (speechless!)
Trying to place myself in her shoes, I can’t help but to wonder what she must be thinking, what she must be feeling. (Oh, to be able to tell the doctors how much pain I’m in. To be able to tell my husband to turn off the lights, to turn on the lights, to scratch my upper lip. Oh, to be able to hold my daughter’s hand, to make her eyes light up, to tell her how much mommy loves her. Oh, to be able to tell her the words I’ve been waiting to say. To share of my dreams and plans I had for and with her when I finally did get better. Oh, to be able to express my frustrations, resentments, and angers. To be able to make amends for that which I wish I could take back. Oh, to let others know that I actually AM “here” and not “on another planet!” How I wish to be alone, not having to witness myself becoming “extinct”, being increasingly “replaced” by others. How I wish to be smothered in hugs…to feel your bodies next to mine.) There are hardly words to describe what this state of existence must feel like. It hurts to even try.
Communication. The ability to express oneself. To clothe one’s thoughts in words, hugs, posture…sacrifice. How unfortunate that it it must too often take something like this to recognize the beauty, power, privilege, and necessity of communication. If we exist to love, all we have is a means for that. Let not another word go unspoken. Let not another hug go un-given. Let not another sacrifice go unmade. Let not another cry go unheard. It may not always be easy. It may not always be comfortable. It may take great intentionality, even great courage. But we must. The alternative is simply too costly.