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Columnist

Your pain matters

I’m about to do an interview with a lady who has agreed to share her pain with me so I can share it with you. In honor of breast cancer awareness month, she wants to tell her story so that someone else might be able to avoid that pain.

I’ve had my fair share of pain in life, some of which I am willing to share and some that I’m just not there yet — and maybe never will be.

Pain changes you. There’s no getting around that. Just like a physical wound leaves a scar, the things we go through emotionally leave their mark. But we get to choose how it changes us.

You can let the hurt turn you into a shell of yourself or an angry person or you can let it open your eyes to what others go through and become more compassionate as a result.

And eventually you may be able to use your knowledge of that pain to help someone else. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not something that happens immediately. It might take years before you are ready to do that. And it might open the wound up again so it feels like it just happened. Only you can know that.

But it also might prove to be the tiniest hint of a silver lining to your experience.

I’ve talked to mothers whose children were in the midst of receiving a diagnosis that would change their lives — I wouldn’t want to go through that again myself, it’s one of the scariest things that can happen to a parent — but I have some resources that might make it a bit easier for another parent. And I have the ability to say, “I’ve been there. The road is frightening, but I’ll hold your hand.”

I’ve been watching my son and daughter-in-law hold someone’s hand through the death of their parent. Unfortunately, she’s had to experience that twice in her young life. And it’s hard, at times reminding her a little too much of what she lost. But she’s turning that pain into a way to help someone else — mostly by just being there.

Being there matters. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that column already, but it bears repeating, especially when someone is in pain.

I saw a picture last night on Facebook of my great-nephew (the one who loves Marvel so much) with a goose egg on his head from running into a wall while playing too hard. I wanted to snatch him up and wipe away that tear that was running down his face.

Of course, I couldn’t. There are 356 miles between us and, to tell the truth, he doesn’t know me that well (yet). But his Momma could. From the size of the bump and the color that was forming, there was a good bit of time between the bonk and the photograph — the sign of a good parent, snuggle first then grab the camera — so I imagine that time was spent holding him.

He’ll be fine and so will she. Maybe this pain will make him a little more careful when playing hard in the house — I doubt it — and maybe his mother will hold someone else’s hand when their child is hurt. She’s probably remembering injuries she had as a child and what helped heal it.

I didn’t get to know her at that age, but I held his father after many a bump and bruise and the occasional trip to the ER. He may not remember it was me, but I hope he remembers feeling loved when he was hurting.

If you are hurting, reach out to someone for help. If you see someone hurting and you’ve gone through a similar situation — it doesn’t have to be exact — reach out to them. You might find it eases your own pain just a little.

That’s how we all get through it. Together. It matters.

•••

Let me know what matters to you at rsmith@crestonnews.com, 641-782-2141 ext. 6433, or c/o Creston News Advertiser, 503 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801.

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