How One “Spoonie’s” Bravery Healed My Heart
Some people open their mouths and change your whole world. They tell their story and suddenly your fractured heart begins to heal itself. Confusion and isolation, your long-time companions go out for a smoke break. Someone is singing your heart’s song when you didn’t even know they knew the words.
So this is what it feels like? To be seen, known, heard, understood? It’s been so long, you’d forgotten what it felt like. It feels good. Tears obstruct your vision. They are healing tears. You thank the stranger for telling their story; our story and you go home with new hope. You’ve been changed.
Perhaps, some of you already know a stunner named Mandy Harvey. I did not. At least, not until a few weeks ago when she spoke at a religious service I attended. She took the stage with grace and poise and then poured out all the truths we hold most dear.
She had dreams. She had talent. She had scholarships. And then she had nothing, all of it ripped away by a connective tissue disorder. She went deaf. Her world crumbled. Well-intentioned friends tried to fix her, pray it all away. She sunk into the depths of a miry depression.
Then, one day, she felt the vibrations and learned to sing again. She’s now a very successful jazz singer. In fact, at the end of the service, she stood up and led us in worship. During which time, I couldn’t see through my tears.
What I loved most about her talk was its rawness. As she described a moment sitting in the car with her father, who was doing his best to encourage her out of this deep depression, she gently touched his hand and then signed, “Daddy, I can’t remember what your voice sounds like anymore. Can we please stop pretending everything’s okay?” My heart screamed, “Yes! Please, friends, please learn to sit with us in the devastation. Please, stop rushing the grief! Please, don’t underestimate the arduous task of burying one life, one self and raising up a new one!”
She didn’t gloss over the enormity of her loss. She didn’t refer to it as a “struggle.” She ripped the stigma and invisibility of disability right off and I wanted to stand up and cheer.
I need you to know that here in this space, it’s always okay to rip the stigma and invisibility right off. You never have to gloss over the enormity of your loss. Together, we celebrate the wins and grieve the losses. That’s what community is.When you find a new self, reemerge a new creation, forged from the fire, I’ll be the first to stand and cheer. Click To Tweet I won’t rush the process, though.
If you can’t remember what it feels like not to see a wad of hair in the drain every time you take a shower, I’ll cry with you. That’s what community is.
If you can’t remember what it feels like to not wake up with debilitating pain, I’ll cry with you, that’s what community is.
Open your mouth. Sing your heart’s song. You never know, it might be mine, too.