My husband and I drove downtown today. We went to the hospital to visit a friend. A devastating car accident placed him there about a year ago. He hit a tree head on and never went into shock. He felt his legs shatter and his hip break. He was conscious when the helicopter came to pull him out. Then he lost consciousness for weeks. Against all odds he is still living. His body now full of metal, infection and surgical scars.
As I walked through the lobby and rode the elevator with my husband I became aware of the sterile air, and the force of fear I always face when entering a hospital. The dread is so palpable I don’t even try to notice the details or describe what I find so repulsive. I simply want to be out as quickly as possible.
Our friend feels the same way. He aches for freedom. He has no flowers, no view of the wider world, only a scratchy TV. Gratitude and anger fight within him when he speaks about his situation.
This afternoon, he expressed his longing to get out of bed without help. To drive to a donut shop and get out of the car himself, walk up to the cashier and order an iced coffee and a coffee roll. To him, that will be the ultimate victory. And to me, it is an expected part of my day or week. I walk through life with no wonder, no appreciation for the gift I have been given.
As we continued to talk, he woefully mused that every turn has been a conglomeration of misery and miracles. He noted that his story truly would be one worth reading. He noted that the polarity of the Psalms have been his comfort whether agonizing over his plight or appreciative that he survived. He loves the authenticity of emotion.
And I was struck by the fact that all of our stories are worth reading-that our authentic emotions are valid and valuable. And yet we don’t share them. There are stories that need to be told. Do we have the courage to tell them?
*I plan on exploring the theme of authenticity and emotion for a few weeks. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.