Last Thursday, May 5th, I drove to work like any other morning. The commute wasn't great, but it almost never is; the sky was overcast, but that's been the norm this spring, and sun was expected soon. Work was work, and I didn't listen to the news on the way in. But as I walked from the parking garage to my building and office, I felt deeply sad. The birds were singing; the trees, finally beginning to bud; the students busy about their classes and exams — and I felt none of it. Instead a great hollow ache slowly spread within my ribs. I had no idea why.
I fired up my computer, checked my work e-mail, then logged into my Facebook account
. I typed "My heart is aching today." — then, not wanting anyone in my network of friends and family to assume I was having chest pains, amended it: "My heart is aching today (in the emotional sense). No idea why."
A friend, L, suggested it was the Rainy-Day Blues and assured me that "The sun'll come out tomorrow!" I told her that a colleague had written the very same thing on my white board earlier in the week, but that this felt deeper (and more soulful) than the weather.
Then another friend, B, made this observation: "Maybe you've been blessed with bearing someone else's suffering for the day...what a gift!"
That struck me, not only as especially Christian and profound in some sense, but as true
— I thanked her, and fell to contemplating who it might be, and whether one so blessed could ever learn whose suffering he bears.
Not an hour later, a dear friend of mine learned that her mother, who has been battling cancer for some time now, was dying. She dropped everything to book a flight down South. It was the same colleague who had left the sunshine-y message on my white board. My friend B was right: I knew it now, and I believe my colleague thinks so, as well.
This is not to suggest my momentary sorrow compare to hers in any way. I don't know how much of the load I carried — in the big scheme of things, perhaps it was only the last straw. But it's tweaked my thinking, about friendship, and prayer, and suffering, and especially coincidences. I knew something was wrong that morning, and that it wasn't just the rain.
My love and prayers go out to my friend and her family in this time of loss. I'll bear whatever I can — whatever I'm blessed to — for you.