When we go through difficult times, there seem to always be moments that stick in our memory like photographs, and over time they become well-worn as we visit them over and over again. One such time for me was during the visitation prior to my mother's funeral. My photograph of that time could be of great pain and sorrow save the actions and presence of a few good friends. While I stood receiving a long line of people who came to pay their respects, there was a constant presence with me that I frequently looked up to see. A few of my dearest friends had come and after speaking to me sat on the couch in the corner of the room - staying there the duration of the visitation. Occasionally, I would see one providing a bottle of water or a box of Kleenax to someone in my family, but for the most part what I saw when I looked up were the faces of compassion, caring, love and steadfastness. They did not bombard me with words, but with their presence and their prayers. When I look back on mom's funeral, it is that vision that I see - those dear friends who though they did not know what to say were willing to sit with me in my pain.
A friend of mine recently posted the following quote by Henri Nouwen on Facebook:
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means 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."
Since I have become essentially homebound due to migraine disease, I have had the opportunity to take a number of other photographs that I will always hold dear.
- When I laid in bed with a severe migraine, and my friend just got on the bed and laid next to me in the dark. Funny how I remember her presence so much more clearly than the pain.
- When I was having horrible discontinuation syndrome from a medication, a number of family members and friends took turns sitting in my room just waiting through the effects with me. Again it is their presence that I remember more than the symptoms.
- When I was afraid to be alone in the middle of the night because of how badly I felt and my brother came over in the wee hours of the morning and slept on my couch to be nearby in case I needed him. Yes, again the comfort usurps the memory of the fear.
- I also carry an image that I've created in my mind of my Lord looking at me with love and compassion, holding His arms out to welcome me into the comfort and strength of those arms.
What pictures do you hold in your mind? Are they of the pain, the disappointment, the trials or have you also created priceless photographs of times when friends and family came along side you to lend their steadfast support? I am sorry that I live with Migraine disease, but I am so blessed to still be building beautiful memories in the midst of it.