Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Grown-Up" has so little to do with Age.

Remembered through a veil of sorrows and time, the saddest sound I have ever heard remains the sound of Bethany's heart breaking at the loss of her Mama. I've been unable to find words to adequately describe it, but I can still hear it, and I can still feel it. It is one of many profound experiences that have changed me while becoming part of me. Her pain was the most excruciating, pure, and completely unscripted I've ever witnessed. Free from the knowledge of societal expectations of how she was SUPPOSED to feel, Bethany simply FELT. Unfettered by the burden of searching for purpose or meaning, her grief was at once terrible and beautiful in its simplicity.  She wasn't expected to conform, nor asked to adhere to "acceptable" behavior under the circumstances.  I watched helplessly as a vast ocean of mourning deposited her on the shore, leaving her gasping for air, only to engulf her again, pulling her under, and all of us there wanting, but none of us able, to save her, to mend her aching heart, or soothe her bleeding soul. As she wept, I remember hearing clearly only the one word: Mama. Mama. Mama. Since the moment she was born, farther back than she could possibly remember, Mama had been there when needed. But now, during her time of greatest despair, Mama couldn't come to her. 
Instead, to her side came a humble angel in the form of my sweet Tiffany, still but a child herself, really, and held on tight, until they were both drenched by the tears of indescribable suffering.  Without offering up any platitudes, cliches, or lessons, she just...held on.  Desperately attempting to ease Bethany's pain by sharing it, she would have taken it and borne every bit of it herself if there had been a way.
I saw my eldest niece as if for the first time through that lens. She is one of the most caring, loving, and empathetic people I have ever known. There are those who can convincingly speak and act with compassion when called upon. Thankfully, these things can be studied and learned.  But a genuinely loving heart itself cannot be bought or taught. Throughout the remainder of what some might refer to as her "troubled" teen-age years, I continued to see Tiffany as I saw her then, remembering the self-less, brightly shining soul I had glimpsed, and realized that she was already more "grown-up" than most adults, and she was so, so much more than just the pretty blonde girl others saw.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written! I am so touched by your words. I am crying like that "little girl" many years ago! I love you so much...... I would love to talk to you more about this one day soon.