I’m not sure if you’ve ever had a reason to be sitting on a therapist’s couch, spilling your deepest hurts to a perfect stranger, but maybe you can imagine the awkwardness. I know she wants to help, she’s so kind, but still. It’s just an odd feeling.
She asks us, “What have you done to gain closure? To commemorate losing Whitman?”
We stare back blankly. Nothing really. I think of that plate stuffed in the back of my closet. The one with the tiniest set of footprints you’ve ever seen.
The thought of hanging it on a wall where I’ll see it daily makes me feel like I’m choking.
“You might think this is funny, but I’ve actually been thinking about getting a tattoo. Just something small…”
She visibly brightens. “I think that’s a lovely idea.”
My husband and I smile at each other. It’s a good idea.
It’s a good idea, but we let a month or so go by.
Then we get an unexpected date night and after dinner he says, “Let’s go get that tattoo.”
We walk into the place a little before closing, but we convince them that one little letter a piece won’t take too long. We pour over the font books. I need it to be perfect. It’s going to be permanent, right?
We notice that, hey, a W from the other direction is an M. Our first son is Miles. I smile to myself.
Joy and pain mixing together.
For both my boys then.
In our culture we’re in such a hurry for everything. Drive-thrus and fast-food. We want 3 easy steps for everything.
I don’t think grief is that way. You can’t hurry it up or just move on.
I knew that the first time when I talked with another woman who had lost a baby nearly 30 years ago. Her eyes filled and she could barely speak past the lump in her throat.
And I guess I just want you to know that it’s okay to hurt.
I don’t know what hurt you’re carrying. Maybe you’ve lost a child too, or maybe it’s something else entirely.
It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay question God. It’s okay to lose sleep wrestling with the why. It’s okay to laugh and keep living.
It’s even okay to scratch it into your skin so you can never forget.
Our pain, it changes us, and maybe we should let it.