Sometimes in life you hear, see, or experience something so painful that you cannot ignore it. Unless you’re like me, then you shut down. You start repeating a safety word over and over again in your head to prevent uncontrollable sobbing. And if you’re like me, you justify those robotic ambitions out of having a hyper-empathetic nature that leaves your identity stained by another’s sorrow. Because you can’t just hear a story, you absorb it.
So this morning as I began reading a blogger mom reveal her 4 year old son Ben’s recent diagnosis, I closed the blog post because it was affecting me too much. Tears had swelled, goose bumps covered me, and my heart was pounding as I envisioned Ben’s family struggling with the news that he has only weeks left to live. And as I was talking myself out of feeling I realized something about my display of resistance: it’s not fair to make it all about me.
Ben is a twin with a younger sister, and up until January of this year, everything in his life seemed normal. Then the headaches began that were soon discovered to be related to an aggressive and extremely rare tumor growing in his brain. At this point, prayers for divine intervention are crucial. As Ben’s mom stated, “The stage is set for a miracle.” The doctors have done all they can and it hurts. Ben could be any one of our children, a cancerous tumor could be any of our realities, and it could be any of us having to explain to our child why he’ll be going to the hospital while his twin brother goes to preschool. Any one of our lives could change just as quickly at any given time.
So instead of ignoring the agony that comes from reading Ben’s story, and instead of repeating a stupid safety word that will distract me from feeling too much, I’m allowing myself to struggle with the truth that life isn’t always fair or beautiful. Some things are too painful to ignore and they deserve attention too. It’s what we need to experience to be better people, to better connect, understand, relate, and be there for each other. Because it’s not just Ben, it’s any of us. We could all stand to be kinder, gentler, and pray just a little bit more for each other. Today, I pray for Benjamin, his family, and that it may never happen to you.
You can find Ben's story and how you can help here: http://bensauer.blogspot.com/