for Rosa

I spent some time with a woman today who is far from her native home, has little or no chance to return there, and who found out that her daughter died today.

We are the same age. She cleans houses for a living and sends most of her money home to take care of her family. I am in charge of papers in an office with lots of words that don’t mean much but are good at telling other people what to do. I don’t ever send money home to my family.

I wonder which one of us provides the most valuable service.

She speaks Spanish and enough broken English to be understood. I speak English and just enough Spanish to get myself in trouble. But I clearly understood that her daughter was muerto and then there was nothing else she could say to me because she simply broke down and cried.

I sat with her. We were sitting on the cold cement door step to the garage. She slumped over her knees and wept as if she could weep herself into nonexistence. All I could do was rest my hand on her shoulder and press my leg gently against hers to let her know I was there. I had nothing to say that was going to comfort her. I have two daughters and a granddaughter. It did not take a huge leap of logic for me to know how I would feel if one of them died.

Nothing was going to make her feel better because the only thing that could would be that her daughter come alive. I called on my eternal presence, asking for something – anything – that I could do, be, say, or give that would bring this woman some comfort, some relief from her grief.

There was dead silence, and for a moment, I thought my presence had deserted me, until I realized I was my eternal presence in those moments for her. Of course, once my ego discovered this, part of me started getting all puffed up, until I acknowledged it and said, “I know. I am ego, too. But for now, I just want to be whatever will support this woman.”

It is humbling being helpless, naked, and raw. We both were, in very different ways.

A friend came to get her and, after she left, I went for a walk to study myself. I realized that she needed her grief, to own her helplessness over her daughter’s death, to expose herself and her pain to me. She has the right to all of her feelings. I have no right to try and take any of them away.

My part? Divine intervention put us in the same place.

That is all I can say.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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9 Responses to “for Rosa”

  1. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    What a divine blessing.
    You were there for her destined to help her expose herself and her pain…

    Being one who has held my pain for so many years, I have not really been in a position to really expose pain in that way. I unfortunately hold it to myself. Always the strong,capable one who holds everyone and everyone together…NOT….someday I will break down and get it!

    Thanks for sharing this unique chance to. Share that Eternal Presence of yours

    ::hugs:: Kim

  2. Barbara Kass Says:

    I am humbled, Kim, largely by the amount of trust she put in me to allow herself to be so devastated in my presence. For us to expose ourselves requires a significant amount of trust. I can count on one hand the number of people I would trust with my vulnerability. Also, I am aware of how much she trusts herself and her feelings, knowing at some primeval level that she must express this grief.

  3. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    Note: I am also humbled by meeting you…..it helps me quite a bit, more than you know…

    Thanks for sharing

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Kim – guess what? I just found all the missing comments you were talking about last week! Somehow, they ended up in my spam filter. I think it was because you had a new address. Anyway, I approved them all and will be going back to read each one. Well, this teaches me a lesson to check that spam mail once in a while!

  4. holessence Says:

    “This is all I can say.” Spoke to my very core in a huge way — thank you, Barbara.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Laurie – I just got to a place with this event that I had no more words. I am not used to that, but it is one of my significant lessons: be willing to be wordless.

  5. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    That’s the great thing about blogging…..the dialogue continues…

    Thanks for checking!!

    Have a quietn grace filled evening.

  6. sandiwhite Says:

    God love you Barbara, for having the presence of mind not to come at her with those stupid, chilling words that every well-meaning but clueless soul seems to want to push at the immediately bereaved, The ones I’ve heard too many times, have never believed and wished that some one would extricate me from the proximity of the fool who insisted uttering them to me. While your heart is still in the process of shattering and your World is crashing about your feet, the last thing you want to hear is some unenlightened soul, murmuring in your ear, ” Hush now, hush, it’s going to be alright. Just wait, it will be alright.” That one, with all the heartfelt sympathy they can muster, cannot and will not understand how very, very wrong it all is, it’s not going to be alright. It will never be alright, it might get better after a long time, it may not hurt quite as sharply, but it will never be alright. Thank you for having the courage to just be there and know with her that her pain is not bearable, it is too much to take and you realize it and understand it. That is the kind of quiet courage that we all hope to have should we be placed in that situation, and to be still while her heart breaking, breaking.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — you are so right; life after the death of a loved one will never be the same again and that part of your life will not ever be “alright.” Life still might be good, and we will be happy again, but nothing will replace the person that is missing in our lives. I think the people who respond with the “its going to be alright” are afraid of their own grief and just want yours to go away so they don’t have to see it.

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