+ JMJ +
Tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s death. What always comes to mind around this time of year are the memories of her life, how I was included and how I was impacted. Another thing that comes to mind every year, are the days leading up to her passing.
Anyone can understand that the loss of a loved one is the hardest part of life—even if they haven’t lost someone themselves. However, no one, whether they have or not, can ever quite find the words to console those that are mourning.
Friend Amongst Strangers
As a 9th grade homeschool student, I went to a weekly Christian co-op to take a Spanish class. This took place the semester before my grandmother’s passing and was the first that I attended. There were a lot of new faces and being a new kid in any school is a little nerve-racking. However, one of the new faces was a girl named, Paula. She had a very peaceful aura and was the first to reach out to me. We saw each other weekly from September to mid-December as we learned our newly discovered language. Towards the end of the semester we began to frequently talk to each other on the phone—for hours. 😛
At the beginning of the new year, my grandmother’s health began to fail. During this time, I was abandoned by my best friend due to the fact they found it too hard to be around someone in that state in life. This was very hard, as I’m sure you can imagine. My mother hurt for me not having someone there to support me.
The conversations with Paula began to become more frequent as I had no one else to whom I could turn. As my grandmother’s health continued to grow worse and my family knew she was close to the end, Paula discerned that she could be a great deal of help to me. She asked her mother if she could come stay with me. And it was then that I discovered the power of “being”.
The Art of a “Being” Human
I’m going to jump ahead a little bit. I’m not exactly sure the day, month, year, but my mom discovered this thing called “Affirmation Therapy.” “…it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something to or for her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth. Affirmation is a profound way of being with someone that should not be mistaken for a set of simplistic techniques such as giving a pat on the back or a superficial compliment.” When we learned this and we reveled in the gloriousness of it, we looked back on the person who did it best—even though they didn’t know they were doing it.
They were Paula.
When my grandmother lay dying in her bed, I sat on the couch beside her. I sat with Paula. She didn’t do anything. She didn’t talk to me. Most people would look at this as say, “Well, yeah. Of course she didn’t have anything to say, she was a 16 year old. What kind of sage advice would she have?” As I said before, most people don’t know what to say—no matter what their age is. But my point here is: she didn’t have to. She didn’t have to say a word. And she was more than comfortable with not having that ability. She had something greater to give. Presence. She was “being” with me. She was letting me feel my emotions. She wasn’t trying to tell me words to “fix” me. It’s almost unexplainable. I just leaned on her and cried. We did sing worship music and prayed with my grandmother. But for the most part, I just sat there. She just sat there. It was enough.
To Be or Not To Be
This world is going going going. No one sits with people anymore without “doing”. It’s so hard to “be” in this constant state of motion. To live the affirmed life “means learning to “be present to everything in creation” and learning how to live in a more quiet and unhurried manner.” Paula showed me, as part of God’s creation, that I was worth “being” present with. She was quiet. She was unhurried. She was content with not having words to speak. She was exactly what I needed.
We all have trials in our lives with which we need people there to support us. Some of those trials cannot be consoled with words. This power. This power of “being”. Of being allowed to feel those emotions that come on so strongly. Of being able to not be shut down for feeling sad. Of being able to be present with someone without them feeling as if they need to “fix” you. Harness it, my friends. Wield this power. Those you love will be forever grateful you did.
+ Pax + | KK