Standing in front of a half-circle of faces, my eyes shift between the wall behind them and the floor at their feet. Who all is here tonight? I didn’t bother to check when in walked into the class I teach, twenty minutes late.
I could feel their gazes.
My eye makeup hadn’t run down my cheeks — I checked that in the mirror before I entered. Instead, I had noticed in the reflection no eyeliner or mascara remained at all.
Is it evident to these unnumbered faces that it took every ounce of strength to walk in this door? Do they sense my sorrow? Do they realize this was no ordinary oncology visit with my mom that simply ran late?
Flipping through the book, I search for tonight’s lesson. I ask the question from the lesson and steel my eyes, awaiting an answer. My head slowly tilts upward, the room stays silent, and I brave a glance at the eyes looking into mine.
Yes, by the looks in their eyes and by their hesitancy to launch into the discussion like business as usual, they know.
I’m sure my pain was written all over my face that night, but how often do we completely miss it when others right in front of us are suffering?
How often do I chat with a friend and have no idea her inner turmoil?
Not long ago, I found out a friend had been suffering for months. Looking back, I can now see the signs were there. But at the time, I had completely overlooked them.
If I learned anything that Wednesday night, it was to look more closely. To listen to what isn’t being said. To pause from my own busyness to see — to really see — the person right in front of me.
I won’t be able to fix most things. But I can comfort. I can say, by my words or by my presence, “I see you. I see your pain. I’m here.”
If you’ve been following my mom’s story, you know she has been battling cancer for 3 years. That night was our last visit to the oncology clinic, as we’ve chosen to focus on her quality of life. Though what we heard in that oncology visit wasn’t unexpected, the good-bye to Mom’s doctor and the staff hit me harder than I had anticipated.
My hope is that this post encourages us all to take notice of those around us, to the not-so-obvious signs of pain. When has someone noticed your pain when others didn’t, and ministered to you?
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