She did not look like anyone I had seen before. There was a red shape on her face that terrified me. I thought then that it was because I thought she was ugly, and I was so ashamed that I never talked to her. I think now, that it was because it scared me. I didn’t know what could cause something like that and I was selfishly afraid it could happen to me too if it happened to her. I think I was also afraid of what caused it. I was afraid she had gone through something really painful. I was afraid of the possibility that kids may have made fun of her. I was afraid to make it worse, and to be a part of her pain that was unimaginable to me. So I never talked to her.
Still, she was a sun-kissed beauty, radiant with love and affection. I will never forget the image of her laughing sweetly on the handlebars of David’s bike. Her hair was iconically hers, the shape of it was completely unique to her. It was blonde and brown at the same time, and the humidity frizzed it, but just enough to make it come alive. Her head tilted to her left shoulder as she balanced on the hard metal beam, clutching the handlebars so hard that her shoulders rose inwards and up to her chin. Her 50’s style skirt billowed around them, and yet remained perfectly tucked around her legs. It was khaki, and the fashion police inside of me couldn’t stand that, but they were happy.
He was just beside and behind her, as he always was. His olive skin was covered by a brown beard and shaggy haircut. He looked like an underdone college professor, if they grew like trees looking like themselves from the very beginning, complete with rimless glasses. At the same time, he glowed with the glee of a twelve year old boy, effusive with Karly’s presence. She was everything he needed, and everyone could see it.
I never talked to them, but I watched their sweet romance unfold with awe. They were so simply beautiful and happy, in a way that I had never been, and really could not understand. She was blissful when he picked her up with a rose from class. The night they became engaged their fingers intertwined and the twist of their hands around each other pushed their shoulders awkwardly into each other, but it did not matter. They were joy and romance incarnate.
Whenever I see scenes from Roman Holiday I think of them, but there was an innocence to them that surpassed even Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. There was this classic ordinary-ness that made their love real, but I never knew any of the flaws or silly arguments that everyone has, so they were still perfect. I still don’t fully understand my own fear of them.
Many years later, I found out that David had gotten sick. What seemed like no time at all later, I found out Karly was too. I was so upset, but I ignored it, and I went on with my life. Occasionally, I saw their posts, and everytime I saw them, I would want to cry for what they were going through, but I would close the page, so that I couldn’t see. I told myself I was protecting myself, which I was, but I was denying myself the power of praying for them, of hearing their beautiful story, of watching their beautiful life.
They have four kids now, who are all so beautiful and perfect. They have been joyful through so much suffering I cannot even fathom how they are doing it, if not for some miracle from heaven. This week, David died.
I am so angry for them.
I am so angry that Karly has lost him.
I remember the pain when I lost Emma. The moment when I felt a pain in my heart so intense that I thought I would stop breathing, or worse that I somehow would cease to exist. What was even worse was the pain of being alive with that pain in my heart, existing while my heart exploded out of my body in an ache that choked my lungs.
I know what it feels like to lose someone. I can’t stand that they are going through this.
This morning, I was doing dishes and making pancakes, and my body started to slam pots and pans, throw things roughly into the trash, and it wanted to scream and break every piece of glass in the house. I thought I was angry because my husband is struggling with biology, and I’m living with my parents, and I don’t have a car, and I’m going through a lot. So I went outside. I exploded out the door with fury, as if going outside would somehow free me from the anger igniting inside of me, fully expecting to rage to God about what’s going on in my own life. Instead, my rage was for them.
I started muttering underneath my breath, trying to appear sane, because I do not live in the middle of nowhere anymore, and there are people everywhere. Thankfully, none outside, so I could somewhat pretend to be alone, but anyone could have been watching, and that’s embarrassing, but oh well.
“I cannot believe you would do this to her…
She did nothing but follow you!
Why did he die?
They did nothing wrong!
They were so beautiful!
They were so kind!
They never hurt anyone!
How could you do this to them?
Haven’t they suffered enough?
I can’t believe we live in a world that they could suffer so much.
What kind of a world have you created?
What kind of monster creates people just to torture them for their entire lives?
Why would you create us just to watch us burn?
How could you do this to her?
She has 4 kids.
She needs him.
They love each other.”
It didn’t stop there. I raged through falling snow and sobbed for them. I hid behind the pool house, and let my own heart bleed for her, and I prayed. I prayed that everything I am suffering right now would heal her heart so she would never feel what I felt when Emma died. I begged God to take that pain from her. I screamed at Him about letting that pain exist. I cried for her, I cried for me, I cried for my children, my parents, my husband, my friends, my neighbors, my people, acquaintances I have read about on Facebook that are just trying to get ahead.
“What the Hell, God?”
Then, like a flash in my head, I remembered writing about Shonda Rhimes using Grey’s Anatomy to comfort people, and I knew my purpose.
See, when I was a kid, I would grieve like this for others, but I slowly closed myself off. I told myself that I could not survive with everyone else’s pain and my own. I had to shut off everyone else’s so I could just feel mine. Closing off emotions doesn’t mean they aren’t there though, so everything that happened to me hurt worse than it would have because it was a symbol of all the pain I was ignoring. I became bitter and angry, and I didn’t help people anymore. It hurt too much. I felt stupid for bawling at funerals of people I barely knew, so I controlled my emotions.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
My heart of stone is broken. I worked so hard to create it, to hide who I really am, to pretend I am not meant to be there for others, to pretend it wasn’t my whole purpose in existing. It wasn’t my fault. I was a kid, and that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. My writing was given to me for a reason. My writing was given to me so that with every word I could take away a little bit of someone’s pain. It was given to me, as a gift, for the body of Christ, which is everyone on earth. Every. Single. Person. No. Matter. What.
If I could, I would go back in time and I would touch young Adolf Hitler. I would hold him, and tell him everything is going to be okay one day.
If I could, I would hold every single one of you who have ever thought about suicide, and I would tell you to wait. I would tell you to stay here, don’t leave us, you don’t know who is out there right now crying for you.
If I could, I would hold you as you cried, and I would tell you that God does love us, and there is goodness in this world. Sometimes, even I don’t believe it, but I can hold you until we can see it again.
We are all struggling. “We are all in this together,” High School Musical lyrics in the face of evil, screaming back against the night. We will not let it overtake us.
I am here for you. I do not have much to offer, everytime I try to do something for someone it falls apart, but I will sit here with you in your pain, and I will pray, and I will offer my tears for you, and I will touch your heart however I can. I will fail, and I will miss what you need me to say, and I will say the wrong thing, but let every word I say be a comfort to you anyway. It’s not enough, but please accept my presence with you, my love for you. You are not alone.
Karly, I am praying for you now, and I always will. My entire life I will remember you and David as the beautiful couple who suffered unimaginable pain and did the best they possibly could with every day they were given. I will think of you for years to come, and I will pray for you, and I will offer my struggles for you. I would move heaven and earth for you if I could take away the pain you are feeling right now, but I can’t, so let me offer you this. You are not alone, and you will never be alone.