Saturday, October 9, 2010

Loss of Contact

One of saddest of the many sad things about protracted illness is that the one suffering often loses some of or all of their ability to express his or her thoughts in speech and writing. This loss is painful, of course, for the one experiencing it; but it is likewise painful to the sufferers friends and family.

My aged mother, who lives far from me, has been experiencing severe physical problems for over two months. Her maladies have compromised both body and mind. When she is on opiates, she simply is not her normal self. But even when she is off of them, her pain, fears, and fatigue make her different from the person who would always so readily talk with me over the phone--the person who was a famously faithful letter and card writer. There is now more silence than speech; and no more cards or letters. I cannot simply call Mom to check in or to lament or to rejoice. I miss her voice, her cheerfulness, her faithfully-expressed love for me and my wife.

Others experience similar losses in other settings. The once-vibrant friend now struggles to find the right words and gets confused so often. Words slip away and an awkward silence ensues. We look into eyes and wonder what lies beyond them.

These long silences of illness, the absence of welcomed and wanted words, are among the most painful of pains for those suffering along with the wounded ones.

Yet even as his earth-bound, and disease-ridden creatures go mute, God continues to speak, to speak through the testimony of Scripture, through the loving acts of friends, and even--if we listen carefully enough--through the long silences of the suffering...

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