An open letter to my dear friend, Leah
To be loved deeply by you, and without condition when you are in the middle of white hot pain is a gift so meaningful it is hard to describe.
It is a rare and immeasurable comfort.
I wanted to say that I know there’s a cost to you – to love like this.
I know you willingly pay it, but there is always a personal cost. I see you pay this cost again and again.
I am in awe of you.
Supporting grief, bearing witness to deep pain, is itself a legitimate trauma but it’s often an invisible one. Those in the support team often think their own pain doesn’t warrant attention or tenderness because they compare it to the white-hot pain of the people in the middle of it.
Witnessing pain and grief and trauma, especially when we love the person in the middle, is an accumulated and relentless stress.
But who wants to admit that they’re tired down to their core of supporting, when their loved one is walking through fire?
There must be days you are tired beyond the telling of it. There must be days you save your own tears for the bottom of the shower, or when you’re alone in the car. Or you may push them so deep down you’ve stopped crying.
When you’re in the support team, you carry your own pain, you have your own grief. But you put it aside to provide support. Lifting your loved one, remembering the little details of what needs to get done, bills paid, kitchens cleaned, children bathed and fed and felt seen, medical appointments managed. The list is endless. I see you make sure everyone feels loved.
So, my first true love, I hope that you are also looking after yourselves. I hope there are moments where you can put yourself first because you deserve to be.
Whatever ways you get through each day loving like this – I hope that there are comforts you are finding for yourself. I hope you know how much you yourself are loved – right down to your very bones.
I was so lucky to have you in that Speech and Drama Class in 1991, to share embarrassing little wings on our school uniforms that should have been wingless all through the 80s.
To have you so firmly on my team before my own battles began.
Everyone else you love like this are lucky too, to have you by their side during their white-hot pain.
You are a rare unicorn of a friend.
I love you right down to your very bones.