Suffering is part of life. Like most people, I don’t want to suffer. I pray to God to keep me from it, protect my children from it. But that’s not going to happen entirely because God said we would suffer, just like Jesus himself did.
Although I will do what I can to avoid personal suffering, I have to say that the suffering I’ve gone through is something I now hold close to my heart, something no one can take from me. For those that have had fairly smooth sailing in their lives so far, that may sound odd. It would have to me earlier in my life before my husband’s illness began taking its toll and eventually took his life.
The thing with your personal pain is that it’s uniquely yours, part of who you are. So denying it is like denying part of yourself.
There are times that the pain hits me and I want it to pass, even sometimes wonder why it came at me without warning. There are days I just want to forget. But if I was told that the pain from my experiences would be completely wiped out, I would fight it.
A friend wisely told me that you hurt because you care. So taking the pain from me would be like taking away acknowledgement of my loss of a person I deeply cared for and the life we had together.
This is something I often have to remind myself of. It’s easy to get busy with life and busy trying to build a new life and to leave that pain aside. I know I shouldn’t wallow in it, and I’m happy that the pain is lessening and consumes less often. I’m happy to feel happiness and peace taking its place more and more. I’m glad I can set it aside for a length of time, but I wouldn’t want it to go away altogether because it would be like saying I didn’t care or that I’m not human.
I just don’t bear it alone. Not only do my family and friends suffer alongside me, so does the Lord. Feeling that pain sometimes makes me feel closer to God because it draws me into myself where he is.
When my aunt gave me a handkerchief specifically for my husband’s funeral and told me that I was to use it then preserve it and my tears as a keepsake, I thought to myself, “Why?” Why would I want to remember this awful day and how much it hurts right now? But now I get it. I treasure that handkerchief just like I treasure the other memories I have of my husband.
C.S. Lewis said when he lost his wife that death is part of marriage. It’s part of that relationship and it’s guaranteed that at least one person in that relationship will experience that loss if the marriage lasts. Now most people don’t have to experience that part of marriage until they are much older than I, but I wouldn’t trade any part of my marriage to Tim, including this part, because it’s now a part of who I am and a part of who I am to become.
Love itself is a painful experience. A younger friend of mine who is wise beyond his years said he believes love is at least worth an argument or two. The painful experiences associated with that love can make that relationship stronger, just like our struggles make us stronger. That is why I now treasure my pain, because a broken heart is stronger.
Kimberly Gray is a Nolan County resident. Comments about this column may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .