One of the hardest aspects of life is that we don’t get to skip the hard stuff. Loss and heartbreak can spear us through and through, but we can’t avoid them. And, harder to accept, we shouldn’t avoid them.
Life, unfortunately, is something we can only learn by doing. It’d be wonderful to skate through, avoiding pitfalls and adversity, but what kind of life would that be? A life spent dodging pain is a life lived without texture, without color. The hard parts happen in contrast to the good–and are as shadows are to light. Pain is part of the deal, grasshopper. Nobody gets through unscathed.
Now, especially for parents, you want more than anything to shield your child from sickness, from disappointment, from all things dark and hard…but you can’t. It’s not a failing, it’s an inevitable necessity of growing up and getting on. Would we shelter them from heartbreak if we could? Of course, but they’d learn nothing and eventually they’d face some dire moment alone and they would have developed no coping skills to help survive it. We can be willing to take the bullet, and since we love them, we will–but we can’t take all their pain, it just isn’t possible.
We can’t even defer our own.
It’s not all grim. Life is a balance of good and bad. Our experiences can teach us just how harrowing life can sometimes be, absolutely, but they will also teach us the sublime gifts of love that transform our hearts instead of breaking it; friendships that help carry our burdens and work that gives our life meaning. Life can give us beauty, richness, wonder, awe and so much more. And the hope in every life is that the good is abundant and the bad rare and transient. The bad stuff is unavoidable, but the good stuff should more than compensate–if we recognize that the give and take of it all is the rhythm of existence.
Needed and important lessons hide within every event–beneficial and adverse. And every wound incurred can be healed by the transcendant good that will also come. Does any of that make things any easier to handle when you’re in the midst of the worst moments? Probably not, but maybe that knowledge can provide a guiding light out when you’re able to move again.
So, what doesn’t kill us, still hurts like hell…and teaches us how to handle the next hurt. It does make us stronger and smarter…even if it doesn’t provide a talisman against harm in the future.
So, I know, that if your heart is broken, or you grieve a loss, all of this is just talk and is at best cold comfort. But there can still be hope, and there are people who care, and there is a dawn after every dark night. And next time, maybe the path will be a little easier to see. In the meantime, do make a point of treasuring your joy and hold tight to it to as you would a lifeline.
Love and wonder are out there. The road to finding them is fraught with danger, but you have to travel that road to get to anything worthwhile.
And, for what it’s worth, we are all on that road together.