Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Carry the Stories

I carry the stories of innumerable people.
Stories I can never tell.

Some, because to do so would be to betray a trust, to violate someone's privacy.

But most because there is no way to explain, no way to share, no words that adequately describe the truth.

How can you tell the story of a man who watches his life partner die before his eyes? How do you condense the dozens of years of shared experiences, of love, of arguments and struggle, of change, of fears and hopes, into mere words?

How do you convey the moment of panic a mother has when her infant stops breathing, and then, moments later, the flood of relief as the child breathes again?

How do you describe the scene of an accident, with an unrecognizeable vehicle, bodies thrown in multiple directions, and account for why it is that of two passengers, seated next to each other, fate has it so that one survives, and the other does not, through no fault of their own?

How do you look at someone who has clearly fallen into despair, someone whose life has gone in an unfortunate direction, who has landed in that place where nothing they do ever seems to work out, whether job or living situation or relationship, where no matter what they try, it comes back in their face? How do you offer them what little help you can provide, knowing it isn't really what they need, and then go on to your next thing, as if you never saw them? How do you tell their story? And to whom?

How do you explain to a friend why it is that as you travel through the area, you see each house, each building, each road, as a place where something has gone wrong, a tapestry of misfortune, and sometimes, it means that while you are remembering previous events, you miss the emerging crocus and daffodils that herald Spring?

How do you share the rush of seeing an infant's first breath, and then staying awake for days, unable to sleep, unwilling to miss even one second of this unfolding life?

How do you communicate to people that as bad as things can get, the good still outweighs the bad, the moments of joy still compensate for the tragedies, and that being there, and knowing what to do, is so far above the idea of standing by, helpless, that anything else is unimaginable?

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