“That must be a heavy burden to carry…”
His words touched deeply, as if they uncovered a piece of truth I was trying to keep hidden – but he saw it.
I apologized as another tear made its way down my cheek. Somewhat embarrassed by my own emotion – somewhat surprised I was even here.
When he first entered my emergency room he was taken aback to find me alone. He asked a few questions which I simply answered about this unknown pain I was experiencing. It was minor, yet confusing enough that I needed to make sure there wasn’t something major behind it.
“When did you start feeling the pain?” – When I woke up yesterday morning, it was piercing.
“What took you so long to come in?” – I needed to put my girls to bed first [the water begins building in my eyes]
“What kept you from coming yesterday?” – [as a single tear escapes my burning eye, I explain] I have three little girls, adopted, and I’m not sure why… but they fall apart if anything is wrong with me.
I needed to wait. I needed our weekend to be a perfect rememberance, a celebration of this family built from a dream. I needed to make space for the good days that would overcome the ones that are hard. I just couldn’t be the trigger that makes everything fall apart.
I need to protect them from my pain.
They’ve felt so much. I can only piece together parts of the story that I read in their case or I’ve heard secondhand. I don’t know if they even understand what they saw in those early days, or what about it makes them glaze over into a trance-like state that seems void of life.
One time, at our dear chiropractor’s office, I attempted to get an adjustment. One twin screamed uncontrollably as I lay on the table. When all was done and I knelt down to calm her, she came close and slapped me across the face – something I had never experienced in my whole life. Yet it came from a 3 year old and ultimately stung my heart more than my cheek. She had no idea what she had done.
Another time, when my toe met the black-iron bed built for a queen, I screamed in pain, certain that I would never walk again… her eyes turned to glass and she began hitting me over and over until she was pulled away.
There’s a place she goes that I cannot see – there are no words spoken – just a fear that overcomes like a blanket.
And I silently vow… I will never be the cause of her pain.
I realize now the cost of that vow. I will be strong; there’s no room for weakness.
I’m setting unrealistic expectations and there’s no way I can deliver.
We can’t be a family that avoids the pain. Hers or mine.
He spoke gently to me as I tried to pull myself back together. He laid out our next steps to evaluate and medicate to bring relief from the mystery in my abdomen. I assured him I was ok with the pain, I can handle it… I just need to know if there’s anything important that could be wrong.
“You are important…. you are important and you are in pain.”
His words diffuse my deeply ingrained protective strategies and allow me to believe I am worth seeing… even though I can’t seem to make eye contact for fear of more tears.
I can’t take those pain meds that make you sleepy. There’s a tiny person back home that is bound to wake up because she ate her weight in watermelon… I have to be able to help her sleep walk to the potty – time is of the essence.
They draw all the blood, fill me with fluids, give something mild for pain and deliver a “cocktail” that falls far short of my definition. All my major organs come back clear, I breathe a sigh of relief and promise if the pain returns I’ll come back for further testing. He didn’t say it in so many words… but I know the truth… camping is killing me. [i joke] The truth is more likely that I’ve given myself an ulcer.
I drive home in the darkness of night turned morning, check on the little people tucked in tight and crawl into my own comfy bed next to the guy that holds my world together. But I can’t stop hearing the doctor’s words…
…That must be a heavy burden to carry…
They’ve replayed in my head over and over today. It’s almost as if he saw my dark circled eyes, my clenched jaw, my broken pieces and called out the truth… I’ve taken on a burden that wasn’t mine to carry.
I’m gently reminded of the scripture in Matthew 11
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Our burden is real, there’s no doubt. But it isn’t mine to carry alone. It was an invitation, in the most unexpected place, to come weary and trade this burden for rest. It was a gentle reminder that I don’t have to hold it all together. I can’t undo the pain of a past or avoid the pain of the present but I can trust that the one who was there continues to carry the weight and will be faithful to heal.
Sweet friend, you’ve made it this far in our story. I wonder what burden you may be carrying yourself. You’ll know what it is when you feel the sting of tears in your eyes. Like me, you may scramble and try to keep from falling apart. Dear one, let them fall. These tears are signs of something deep within. And there’s an invitation that says, come to me, your burden is heavy, but I have rest. You do not have to walk alone.
And just in case the guy in the E.R. offers you a cocktail… don’t fall for it.
a broken girl.