The ties that bind

love_hands_poster-r6d8743b7023c437ab7bb5db29cb5c3f2_w2v_8byvr_512Cancer may have brought our community together but for many of us the ties of friendship have been strengthened through life’s other challenges and griefs. We hurt as much for the pain our friends go through as we know they do when we are hurt by life’s cruel blows. I will never forget the love and support which surrounded me here when my beloved mother died two years ago. More recently we rallied around our friend Karen when she lost her husband and now sadly it’s time to hold another friend in our loving thoughts and prayers. While visiting her home in Ireland, Yvonne received the devastating news that her husband had died. The shock I felt when Yvonne told me floored me, and I am still in shock. It doesn’t seem real. I can only imagine what that sense of unreality and shock must be like for Yvonne and her beautiful daughter. Yvonne, in her eloquent way has shared something of the experience on her blog: “Is it too soon to say that I am still alive, that life is for the living, for finding new rituals? Maybe. Then again nobody knows what to say or do. There are no rules.”

There are no rules. There are no words we can say that will take the pain away for Karen and Yvonne. All we can do is reach out to them both and surround them with as much love and tender care as we can.

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. Henri J.M. Nouwen