the comfort of others

The woman with whom I share an office lost her son in a fatal car crash in August. It wasn’t my story to tell, so I didn’t write any posts about it. Plus, it just sounds self-centered to talk about how my life was affected by the tragedy. Yet, because I work so closely with her, it has been impossible to stand aloof and untouched.

I tried talking to my husband about it the day after the accident. In my rush to unload, I forgot something important until I heard his stomach gurgling.

“Are you okay?”

“No,” he stated. “This brings up a lot of shit for me.”

When my husband was seventeen, his twenty-two-year-old brother died in a car crash. Despite the passage of time, he still mourns that loss. Hearing about the fresh tragedy opened old wounds, so he was not able to serve as my sounding board. So I turned to a close friend who let me call her and share my feelings over the next few days and weeks.

After one of our conversations, I wondered whether she in turn talked to someone else. The image of a bucket brigade popped in my head. Instead of dousing fires, I imagined a line of people helping each other grieve. I wrote this poem about it, and one reader captured the exact spirit in her response:

Aunt Beulah says:

Since reading this poem, I haven’t been able to get the idea of passing a grief-heavy bucket out of my mind because it rings so true. That’s what we do when we try to comfort others and in turn receive the comfort of others. Wonderful poem.

Aunt Beulah, who is actually Janet Sheridan, is a long-time follower and commenter on this blog. She leaves thoughtful and supportive responses which is why I am featuring her as the September comment of the month. I hope you will visit her blog and read some of her wonderful stories.

Thanks, Janet, for understanding and relating to my poem. Your words will live on at my Couldn’t have said it better page.

One thought on “the comfort of others

  1. Thank you for publishing my comment. I follow your blog because it so often gives me food for thought — a chance to ponder the mysteries and common bonds of being human. Strange, but I am traveling, so just discovered your kind reference to my blog today; but last night something I heard reminded me of your poem about the bucket brigade and the universality of its message.

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