Many years ago, during a period of despair in my life, crying uncontrollably on the floor of my kitchen, alone, I telephoned my older brother in New York. I wanted someone to take the pain away. To say something that would fix it.
He listened as I sobbed. Consoling me, time from time, with the usual platitudes people say at moments like that. But as he listened and five minutes turned into ten, and ten into twenty, and on until an hour had passed, the uncontrollable sobs lessened. The tears that had covered my face mixed with the snot running from my nose had been wiped clean. I was able to speak more clearly and calmly. My breathing softened.
“I can’t take your pain away. No one can. You have to walk through it. I’m here to walk with you. I’m here to witness your sorrow. I love you and I can hold your sadness for a little while.”
Those words have always stayed with me. I have passed them on to others in their times of despair. And I have asked others to be witness to my pain.
Just yesterday I asked it of a dear friend. It doesn’t take it away. But I am now not so alone with it.
So friend. Thank you for holding my sadness.