Over the past few days, I've been comparing losses.
Tonight, as I was writing in my journal, I was letting words roll of my tongue and capturing the way they tasted as they left my lips.
Last night, after reading something in a book - that the names of the people you love sound safe inside your mouth - I proceeded to whisper the names of everyone I loved, as well as people I didn't know that well, to see if there was a difference. I smiled over the fact that there was.
Today my words were a little different. After realizing that, when naming things we consider tragedies like the loss of a loved one, they all had the same sort of ring on my tongue, I went on to whisper the words, "Diagnosis."
I whispered them in an empty room, wondering if they would sound any different then "Death," and "Loss," two words we associate with grief.
To my ears, they sounded the same, the same sort of ring to them. These words are the kind you whisper in the quiet of night, as if whispering them makes you a little more immune to death, to loss, to diagnosis', things that change your world forever. Like maybe if you whisper them under the cover of darkness death won't know where you live and come steal your children, your spouse, your sibling, your parent, maybe sickness won't come knocking at your door and rob you of the simple gift of just feeling human.
"You're so strong," it's something I've heard many many times over the years, and while I appreciate people who mean well telling me that they admire the courage and bravery I somehow seem to have magically possessed, it always makes me wonder (And sometimes bite my tongue, thinking, "You could have my strength if i could have your healthy.")
Strength, it seems, is categorized by silence and stoicism.
"You are so strong, I could never handle that."
Ah, but you could. If it happened to you, if the unthinkable happened to you, you could. I wonder if, when people see my strength, they see the ability to do what needs to be done and to look decent when I feel like crap and to carry on a conversation. Maybe that's why I think strength, right now, is marked by silence and stoicism.
I agree, I do do the things the need to be done, but only because I have no other choice. If I let what I'm feeling come out and let my heart break at the doctor's office or in class or on your couch, would you think I'm strong then? If you *really* saw the extent of my emotion, would I be considered strong... or crazy?