Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"No man is an island"

This week has been about experiencing how difficulty and pain connect us...perhaps more profoundly than does joy and happiness.

We see this in tragedies and in great moments of illness and death.

This week, I've experienced how the simplest things like having a cold connect me, in my experience, to others. How many of us share the challenges and sometimes pain of the journey of self-acceptance and self-love.

I've had the opportunity to talk about how different kinds of mental illness can connect a family, for better or worse.

And, yesterday (and today and for the next couple of weeks), I have been experiencing how the death of a colleague ripples out and connects a community. How her death suddenly connects to the memory of other deaths or traumas in our lives and reawakens them.

I've had some people ask if I was close to this colleague, and how do I answer that about someone who I saw more than my partner, friends, and family...someone I would not have named a friend, but was part of the fabric of my existence. I have no way to weave a story about a new job she has gone to, or a new town she lives in to fill the hole that was her life. It is now just empty.

And how do I answer knowing that telling the patients that she worked with over the next couple of weeks will create an intimacy with her death, and therefore her life, which I never anticipated or looked for while she was alive.

I don't know, but I know that my instinct is to try to be an island and I am having to fight that instinct with every particle of my being. The truth of getting through this and staying healthy myself is to stay connected to the fabric of humanity that binds us all.

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind."


Cody Bones said...

To stay connected to a point, but too much engagement can result in paralysis. It's hard, I know. My sympathies to you and your co-workers, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Aravis said...

This was so beautifully said, and enlightening. I've felt that way about people I have known, who I also wouldn't have called friend, and I couldn't understand why. You've just explained: they were a part of my life, always there, and then they were gone.

This was truly moving.