the pain we carry

It has been a long couple weeks, hours and hours of work, trying to finish my semester, preparing for the summer season of family and friends visits, and dedicating time to accomplishing a couple tasks that have been on the to do list for months. All of those many details accomplished, sitting in the dentist's chair completing my final task, I decided to rest. Returning to an old friend soothing technique that was gifted to me a long time ago, I begin to rhythmically tap my fingers together.

Closing my eyes, I begin processing the week that has rushed by in a task to task fashion. I covet the thirty minutes to rewind the tape, find the soft and sensitive hurt places, and patch up the holes. Sinking in, I remember something a co-worker said to me that stung and I tap through it. Then I hear my dentist say gently, "you know I often think of your father...I haven't met anyone since I respect more." I catch my breath and feel my heart twinge.

Being back in Vermont has brought a reminder of the pain I carry missing my father. People talk to me about him, I see the mountains and roads that he and I knew, discussed, climbed, traveled. The culture of Vermont, where salt of the Earth people catch up, know each other's stories and believe in their community feels like him. It is a pain that is worth feeling because it brings familiarity in others wrapping their arms around me and welcoming me home.

Grappling with the kids I work with the other night to get over their losses, one of the youth said with tears streaming down his cheeks, "I wish she hadn't left me behind (referring to his mom) and I wouldn't change it either. It just hurts and hurts and makes me stronger." That is the most delicious and excruciating part of living, the pain we carry helps us become who we are, live where we want, achieve the goals we desire and blossom into proud and strong humans.

I looked up at my dentist and I saw my dad in his eyes, I saw myself, I saw his pain. I saw that he and I have intersected so that I may be reminded that my pain shapes me and finding gratitude for that pain will only increase the growth.