I absolutely love this quote from Plato–we never know what hard and silent battles those around us are fighting. It seldom shows on peoples’ faces. Although when we are going through a hard time, we always feel it shows in every breath. We may nod and smile at others, but inside we are in such pain, and wanting to be heard and understood. How many times do we pass another on the street, unaware of their suffering or situation?
These days I find myself remembering that quote over and over again. For me, each day is filled with a combination of loss, sorrow, dread and acceptance as I watch my mother dwindle from the metastatic breast cancer that is killing her. I know she must go—I know she will go. I can’t expect the world to stop spinning because I am in the process of losing one of the most precious people in my life.
I know that so many others are in pain and sorrow, and I hurt for them. I know that my own pain is a speck of dust in the world where so much sorrow exists. But it is my pain, and as such it often overwhelms me. It feels as deep as the ocean, as wide as the sky and as far-reaching as the wind.
Last night the Crankee Yankee took me to our favorite seafood restaurant, where we dined on succulent fried oysters, onion rings and coleslaw. (These days fried food is a rare and semi-forbidden pleasure, so when we have it, we really enjoy it.) I was feeling especially down and going out to dinner was a welcome diversion.
We were enjoying our seafood in the peace of the “early bird” hour. There were two other couples in the restaurant. As we boxed up our remaining feast, a woman from one of the tables called over to us asking if we had ever had the fried clams. I suddenly found I couldn’t speak, much less look at her. The Crankee Yankee answered her, and they got into a little discussion about how good the food was. Ordinarily I would have joined in, but I was suddenly exhausted and couldn’t even bring myself to look at her.
I must have come off as terribly rude, but honestly I just couldn’t do more than just sit there, staring at the wall. As they wrapped up their friendly conversation, she said, “have a blessed day.” The Crankee Yankee wished her one as well. As we walked out the door, she said with a slight edge, “God bless.”
Oh, dear. Madam, wherever you are, I apologize for my rude behavior. God bless you too, and may your own hard battle be won soon.