January 15, 2007

Out of my depth

Colin here… some of you may remember how I was a guest blogger awhile back until I was banished to Siberia by the beautiful Michele for violating her blogging guidelines. This time I return having been forgiven but with much consternation and concern for Michele.

Michele and I have worked together in one capacity or another since late 2004 and as a result I’ve had the opportunity to get to know her a bit on a personal level. Having redeemed myself, I’ve been on my best behaviour and have been supportive during her recent physical challenges. However, in the last 2 days she’s undergone a radical change and I truly don’t know what to attribute it to or what to do to help her. When it comes to dealing with emotions, either mine or someone else’s, I’m truly out of my depth. Perhaps if I explain what happened recently someone out there might understand and be able to guide me as to what to do to help her.

A few days ago, we agreed that I would pick her up on Sunday for lunch and afterwards drop her off at church. When I didn’t receive a call-back Sunday morning I went to her apt. to make sure she was okay. What I found was someone who was the total opposite of the cheerful, vibrant woman I know. She was altered in both mind and spirit. After a great deal of coaxing she finally allowed me to drop her off to visit a friend she said she needed to talk to. To my surprise she guided me to a cemetery about an hour from her home. Over her objections I told her I would stay and wait as it threatened rain at any moment. Before leaving the car she asked me to promise that no matter what I would not get out of the car. I did and gave her an hour before I interrupted.

Ever so slowly, limping and hobbling along, she made her way through the graves and stopped before one with a large gray headstone about 30 feet away. She stood there for a moment and while holding onto the headstone knelt down on her good knee and leaned forward letting her forehead touch the headstone in a gentle and loving way. From where I sat I could see her lips moving as if in prayer. At one point she lifted her head slightly, just enough to kiss the stone. and then pressed her cheek against it and extended her arms like a christ-like figure, almost as if trying to hug and hold the headstone.

A steady drizzle began falling and just when I thought she would finally return, she instead carefully laid her body down on the wet grass. Not knowing what to do, and constrained by my promise, I lowered the car window and called out asking: "Are you okay?" After a minute, in which I was on the verge of running to her, I received a text message saying simply “yes”. There she lay immobile on that wet grass under a cold rain for almost half hour in which I knew she would be soaked to the bone. A long while later, when a torrential downpour began to fall, I felt I had to do something. Getting out of the car I ran to her side and asked her if I could help her get up. While I waited for a response I saw that her eyes were tightly shut. In looking at the headstone I recognized the picture as one of her deceased friends. Without asking again I picked her up and carried her back to the car, placing her gently in the seat. As I closed the door I saw her eyes were still closed and tears were steadily streaming down her cheeks.

When I turned on the ignition to engage the heating system my cd player turned on automatically and played “Far Away” by Nickelback, one of her favorite bands. As I reached to turn the music off she stopped my hand and said “please” in a haunting pained voice that was just above a whisper. Her level of desolation is something I have never experienced in anyone. She she began to sob silently while I sat there not knowing what to do nor knowing what to say and feeling pretty damned angry for it too. As a man, there has never been a time in my life that I can recall feeling so utterly helpless. Men are programmed to spring into action and fix things in order to save the day, not to sit quietly by, watching helplessly as women cry.

I eventually leaned over and put my hand on her shoulder, squeezing it to let her know I was there for her. I asked if there was anything I could do? Anyone I could call? But she just shook her head. Just as I was growing wild with desperation over her sobbing I asked if I could just give her a hug. When she didn’t respond I simply pulled her towards me and embraced her as tightly as I could. Her body shuddered from the deepest sob I’ve ever heard. It truly broke my heart seeing her this way and knowing there was nothing I could do to lessen her pain.

I held her for a very long time until her sobs subsided. She eventually pulled away to lean back in the car seat and through small heaves of tearful gasps said “thank you”. I pleaded with her to please give me something to do, no matter how small or insignificant, that might help in some way to make her feel better, for I felt totally impotent. That’s an awful feeling to have while facing someone in pain. When she was finally calm enough to speak, she turned to me and said “pray” which was followed by a huge mournful sigh.

“Pray?” I asked, not recalling having ever prayed in my life.
“Pray” she said earnestly.
After a long pause I confessed to her that “I don’t know how to pray.” Then I asked her if “God listens to the prayers of unbelievers?”
“God listens to all… especially sinners.” And silent tears began to fall once again.
“That’s it? Just pray?” I asked again to make sure that’s what she really wanted from me and to get her to focus on our conversation rather than her thoughts.
“Pray.” she said looking at me with the saddest face I’ve ever seen on her.
After a long pause, I asked “How?” She reached over and with great effort turned off the music. She then clasped her hands, bowed her head and taking a deep breath said: “Dear God,” pausing for a moment to steady her emotions that were once again welling up inside, “please help Michele heal & become whole once again. Amen.” She looked up at me encouragingly, so I followed her lead and repeated the same words.” After another long pause I asked, “Is that all I can do?”
“That’s all anyone can do.”

We drove back the entire way in total silence, which to be honest I welcomed over the crying. I made her promise to call if she needed anything but all she said was “just pray”. I still can’t see how this prayer business works and how it can actually help her, so I’m turning to you, her readers (especially the women), to guide me and tell me what I can really do to help. She doesn’t want to talk about it, so I’m not going to press, but I welcome any advice or suggestions on how I might help because I have no clue as to what to do. If you think of anything, please email me at: nyletters – AT- gmail –DOT- com In the meantime, I’ll keep updating everyone as to how she’s doing.

Posted by 1Colin at January 15, 2007 02:10 AM