My first semester of college, my BFF/roommate and I went ice skating with a group of new friends. It was great on several levels—ice skating is fun, friends are fun, and feeling like we were finally connecting was more than fun. But then Jen took a spill. Hard. She fell forward and landed on her elbows. She put on a brave face, yet once we were back in our room, I could tell she was not okay—while our friends gathered in our living room to hang out, she was lying face-up on her bed, arms crossed over her torso, tears streaming down her cheeks. An ER trip was clearly necessary.
I asked our new friend, Sam, to go with us and help navigate the situation; he kindly said yes and was a stalwart help through the entire ordeal. While Jen was readying herself to come home, after both her arms had been painstakingly put into awkward splints, I commented to Sam how awful it had been to see Jen in such pain. He said, “Meh. I kept wanting to tell her to just get over it.”
Almost 20 years later, Jen and our friends and I still joke about that, often telling each other to “just get over it”. It’s ridiculous because we know we can’t just get over it. We can’t just get over excruciating pain, we can’t just get over cancer, we can’t just get over loss. There is no switch. Sometimes we can push through, like Kara talks about, but at some point, we will meet our end. The question is, what will we find there?
When I think about Jen’s accident so long ago, I wonder what kind of friend I was. She was a generous, gracious patient. I know I tried to love her well, helping her get dressed and put on makeup and carry her books to class. She was nothing but grace to my clumsy efforts. How did I respond? Was I kind? Did I create a safe place for her to be broken and hurt? Did I encourage her through those weeks of pain and frustration? Or did I serve her with an attitude that said, “I wish you would just get over it!”?
Here Kara talks about the end of her “grieve-and-go” attitude, and what has she found? She has found the love, comfort, and grace of Mickey. Of many people, but what an example Mickey is of unconditional love holding onto hope and joy when hope and joy seem far off.
I often say I want to be just like Mickey when I grow up. But the truth is, I need to be like Mickey now—I need to love well, safeguard hope, extend grace, clean, cook, cuddle, play games, run errands, shuttle kids, pray, massage feet. The list goes on for how I can meet someone in their hurt, like the disabled lady next door or the family behind us wrestling with a recent terminal diagnosis.
Who can you meet at the end of their grieve-and-go attitude? How can you gladly serve someone in your circle who is hurting? How can you provide relief and hope to someone who is struggling to find it?