The look on his face, the painful halting pause in his voice, the tremendous effort he made to speak without crying, it all stays with me as I recall his story. “Twenty seven years ago I bought my little girl Christa, my only child, a puppy…”
Christa was 2 and a half, and was to spend the weekend with her mom and did not want to leave her daddy’s house. So to make it more fun, her daddy bought the golden lab puppy Christa had wanted; her mom said she could bring it along for the weekend. While playing outside at her mom’s house that weekend the puppy ran into the street and Christa followed. Both puppy and Christa were hit by a car and died instantly.
Now trying to surpress the sob, his temples pulsed and face reddend, “In 28 years I have never been able to talk about it with anyone... It’s my fault, if I hadn’t bought the puppy, she would still be alive.”
Over the past years his life became unmanageable. The burden of running from his self-loathing, and guilt had taken a lethal turn. To avoid jail he agreed to rehab. It was time to face the demons of death, loss, sorrow and unforgiveness.
To come along side another human being in so much pain, to have no ability to fix it, solve it, or erase it can be daunting. But bringing a willingness to listen, to come without judgment and extend compassion is an experience like no other. It is a sacred moment, their guard is lowered and emotions begin to cautiously trickle out through the telling of their story. And when the conversation ends the tiniest of tiny flicker of relief and maybe, just maybe, healing can be seen. This continues to be my amazing privilege and calling….. it changes me.