One week ago, my family said goodbye to my grandfather. To the man I loved more than anyone else in the world.
Currently, I have a two inch long gash on my right ankle, where a shaving razor went rogue yesterday.
The two facts are unrelated. Why bother sharing about them both?
Because, today, as I nursed my external wound, I remembered something about the other one. Here's the story.
The cut on my leg is basically raw skin. Well, it was yesterday. Yesterday when I cut myself, I felt almost nothing. It stung a teeny bit, but it wasn't until I looked down that I understood the damage. I saw that the injury was far worse than I originally thought. And boy, did it bleed. Maybe that grosses you out, and maybe that's TMI. but, wow. For a shallow cut, it bled an incredible amount. Over time, the massive amount stopped, but small droplets were still surfacing even two hours later.
It hurt, a little, but it was okay. I placed gauze on it, and it protected it, thus easing the pain greatly.
This morning, The gauze was stuck to it, so I had to carefully, slowly peel it off. The cut is now really bright red. Not bleeding, but not scabbed over yet. No, now it is just raw, tender, and stinging. It doesn't always hurt, but if it gets touched in just the right way, the sting goes all the way up my spine. Or if I even think about it too much, and bring my attention to it, the thoughts make me cringe. There's a very thin layer of something like skin over the top, but its not protective. And it can come off so so easily, and there's the sting again.
When my grandfather passed away, the event was shocking to my entire system. While we saw it coming, it sent waves through everything I ever thought I knew. Like my ankle, I didn't hurt instantly. I made it almost 48 whole hours without breaking down. I cried, yes, but I held it together. But then, there came a moment when I saw how much damage had been done. I saw the pain of family members, I remembered why I was at home, and suddenly I realized all the things one realizes after a death. It was then that the pain hit, and hit hit HARD. My drive home that day was the worst day I've ever experienced I think. I wept bitterly for two hours straight, and it stung. It was a huge rush of emotion, just like the gushing of blood from my ankle. The pain was raw and real and taking over.
That day ended, and the flood stopped. The emotions stopped bursting forth that weekend, but even still, some smaller ones come to the surface. Last Monday, the funeral provided closure and joy. I felt satisfied and at peace. It's like the ceremonies were so beautiful that they protected me from negative emotions for a bit. They were the thin layer of skin, if you will.
*sigh* but, if you're following the analogy, there is about to come the comparison of tearing off the gauze.
Yeah, that's happened too.
See, a dear friend of mine experienced a similar loss just a few days ago. This was the trigger that acted like the ripping off of the bandage. The wound I thought was okay was okay no longer. It became angry and stinging again. The thin layer of protection was ripped away, and the ache followed me around, in the background, for a day or two, and has followed through today.
My ankle stings. It's raw, and my toes are curling up and there's a wince on my face as I type about it.
My heart hurts. The bandage has been taken off, and the pain came back. Which is okay. I'm not
afraid of the pain on my leg, nor am I afraid of my other pain. No, I don't like to think about it, and it
makes me cringe with knots in my stomach. But I understand pain comes before healing.
Soon, my ankle will form a scab. The sting will be gone, and the gash won't be as tender to the touch. Clothes won't hurt, and it won't need a bandage. But, I'm certain, that if its hit in just the right way, it will bleed again.
Then, eventually, it will stop bleeding... But it will scar. The pain will probably go away, but the effects will forever be visible and serve as a reminder.
Also, my skin will not heal on its own... Well, it will, but it will take a much shorter time if I care for it and nurture it like I should. I use the right "tools"- medicines, bandages, and even a friend who forced me to cover it before bedtime. I don't just pretend my ankle is okay. If I do, it may get infected or not heal well.
One day, soon, my heart won't be as sensitive. I'll be able to hear about a broken arm without my eyes welling up, and I'll be able to look at elderly people without the tip of my nose tingling. I'll be able to hear the word "death" and it won't bring images flooding back to my mind. I'll see hospitals and not try to hold myself together. But I am certain, that if I'm ever hit just the right way at the right time, my pain will come again for a time.
Right now, I care for myself by reaching for the right tools... I reach out, and I dig in deep. I don't just pretend I'm okay, because my pain will only increase. I first look UP to my Heavenly Father and I reach out to my tribe.
One day later, years or decades from now, I won't be "bleeding" anymore at all. But, the scar will remain. My life will never again look the way it looked just two weeks ago. I will forever have a scar that tells this story. My family will too. We'll see the scar in the empty chair at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We'll notice the changes in life, just as I will notice the changes in my skin.
But the point is, eventually, the level of pain I have now will pass.
Eventually the bleeding will stop.
Eventually, I will be okay.
Wherever you are, and whatever your specific pain is, eventually, you're bleeding will stop, too. You may scar, and you may hurt for a very long time. But I promise, the bleeding will stop.
After all, it always does.