Pain cracks the seed of our understanding

Pain cracks the seed of our understanding.

Someone told me that once in college when I experienced my first great loss. 

Pain cracks the seed of our understanding. 

Intellectually, I knew what she was saying, but I remember thinking that I understood plenty of things just fine and could do without the intense, soul-crushing, breath-taking pain, thank you very much. 

What she meant, of course, was that experiencing pain is what helps us empathize. I didn’t really get that at the time. But let’s be honest - there is a lot I didn’t get in college. 

Last week, as I was sitting in my in-law’s house that is built into the side of a mountain near State College, Pennsylvania, I opened my Spurling email to find a few dozen emails from you, the Spurling community - some of whom I’ve met, and many who know me through emails. I also received texts and Facebook messages and phone calls from you. (Some of you even watched my dog for me…)  

You very kindly reached out and offered kind, thoughtful, and sometimes brutally honest words. And that brutal honesty is that it hurts. Losing someone you love hurts.  

You reached out from your own painful experiences - some of you very recent - to offer comfort. 

And I don’t really have words enough to thank you for taking time out of your day to share your experience and words of comfort with me. 

I’ve flown a lot in the past month, back and forth to PA, and on one of those flights, as the plane rose above the clouds and I was blasted with sunshine, I caught myself thinking the same thing that Doug wrote about last week: I guess there’s always sunshine. We just don’t always see it.

I’ve had a tough time seeing the sunshine this past month, and I’m still struggling to see it. I lost a surrogate mother - someone who stepped up for me and loved me and accepted me at times when not everyone could. And I don’t have enough words to tell you all of the amazing things about her. It’s still too painful to think about her too much, but someday I'll tell you about her.  

But the sunshine - the blue sky, as Doug calls it - is all of you. 

I have been lifted up, loved, and cared for by an entire community of people. I don't know how I've become so lucky, but I am grateful, so very, very grateful, to be a part of this community.

You have all been my Montana blue sky - and my bright Hawaiian sunshine. 

Thank you. Thank you for reaching out to touch my hurt.