The Light of Suffering

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. ~ Leonard Cohen

A quiet passage happened in my world. My daughter outgrew fairies. I still know they are in the deep woods celebrating while no one is looking.

A decade ago when she was very ill, Make A Wish volunteers decorated her bedroom as her wish. In lieu of a wall mural since we live in a rental home, a generous graphic artist created this portable canvas for her. My daughter collaborated with the artist on a list of design elements she wanted included, even though part of her memory blackout of two years of medical treatment includes this happening. A parent, on the other hand, remembers every detail of the graciousness of these volunteers who gifted their time and energy to assure my daughter woke up to a beautiful room each day.

Now that my daughter is completely healthy and no longer wants a fairy theme for a teen’s room (not many would) I am searching for a current contact for the artist to ask if she minds if we donate this work to the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle where other ill children might appreciate it. I view my daughter wanting to let go of reminders of her past as perfectly aligned with healthy growth.

Why Not Me?

This weekend I have been asked to attend a training at Children’s Hospital for a new Parent to Parent program that happily is getting off the ground to have parents support other parents going through the crisis of having a critically ill child. I have been having waves of emotions surface going back a decade but I feel I have healed my own P.T.S.D. enough to possibly be a supportive listener to others going through what I did. I really don’t know if I can help, but I know with absolute certainty that having someone simply care to listen to me saved me many times, and I would like to learn the tools necessary to do so for others. To pass on the light that comes from suffering.

In participating in a similar volunteer phone support program for a different organization that matched people only by specific diagnosis, I was matched with three families over a decade. One consistent theme I would like to learn more skills around is the question I heard over and over:  Why me? Why my child? Why out of all the evil in the world does this precious innocent being need to suffer?

This question and providing any helpful suggestions around dealing with anger are my two most challenging parts of assisting another parent, because my personal journey never included the question “why me?” Instead I thought, “Why not me?”

And it took me years to figure out what to do with anger, other than handing it over to the natural world, the large expanse of interconnected life that became my salvation then and since. It can be cathartic to shout your anger and cry your grief in the woods. The trees, lakes or rivers are strong enough to absorb it and give you back some love. I also encountered the book When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron during this time and can recommend that to support anyone in crisis, because I have heard people who do not identify remotely as Buddhist feel helped by its wisdom.


About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
This entry was posted in Cancer, Nature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Light of Suffering

  1. Beautiful mural and touching post. Blessings to you for being willing to face the challenge of supporting others.

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