In the nearly 8 months that have passed since my life changed so suddenly, so bottomlessly and so profoundly, I have at times been utterly lost in sorrow. That sorrow is still there; it drives my fears, my nightmares, my successes and my wishes. It has allowed me to face reality in ways I never, ever wanted to.
And as I have faced myself, the truth of what has happened here, my fears, worries and wonders, I have had many people cross my path. As often as not, those people wind up sharing their own suffering. Many are quick to say that it’s not as significant as mine, nor comparable. But, they point out, they have– and do– suffer.
My first instinct when I hear their stories, is to feel like an ass for being as stuck in my own suffering as I have been.
But then I remember: I am emerging from a seemingly interminable moment of suffering that caused me in many ways, to go blind. Now that the fog has lifted, I am beginning to see the suffering happening around me. Maybe the world looks just a little bit—darker than when I was last really looking at it.
They are people you would never suspect–They suffer quietly in their hearts, with smiles on their faces. Those same people have ignored their own suffering to be there for me when I needed them most.
Though not everyone can understand what has happened to me, everyone, EVERYONE understands suffering.
The shooting in Orlando brought so many feelings for all of us. The absolute needlessness of it is…unfathomable. It has caused unspeakable suffering. Unnecessary, senseless and cruel violence. But more than that, there has been something I have been thinking a great deal about.
Part of the great tragedy here is is that, in my admittedly limited opinion, some of the kindest people I know are members of the GLBT community. People of this community know what it is to suffer. By and large this is a community that accepts the misfit. It accepts the outcast. It even accepts the straight person who might then leave that bar and be homophobic and mean in the light of day. This community in our country has already suffered so profoundly at the hands of others. And that they were targeted in the Orlando attack is beyond cruel.
But in the same breath, the love for one another that this shooting has highlighted has been breathtaking. We are all unified against tragedy and needless loss of life. We are all unified because we all know what suffering is. All of a sudden homosexuality has become entirely beside the point. Humanity has become the focus.
When we suffer so terribly it is very easy to become hardened with anger and hate.
But what I see happening all around me is a softening. In my own life and well beyond my own life. A light being shone on the love, not the hate. A commonality being reached through the fact that we all suffer, and that we all have a choice, every single day, on how we are going to respond.
And it is our capacity to understand suffering that unites us. It’s what puts us all in the same storyline.
So much love going out to all who suffer today.
How we suffer varies, but that we do does not.