Today, I was charged with holding space for a dear friend. Holding a story close and building a damn and a filter between what needs to be held back and what can trickle through. I'm accustomed to telling the truth - the whole truth - and helping you see the detritus in your life by showing the flotsam in mine.
But today I cannot. Today's truth isn't mine to share, and that is hard for me.
And it is a privilege.
I always joke that I'm writing a book, because you cannot MAKE THIS $HIT UP. In fact, it's because I'm the filter between the whole truth and the tiny pieces that need to come out is paper thin - page thin. My life makes me think that the writing staff on Grey's Anatomy are just lazy, because reality is truly stranger than fiction. Life is hard enough without major failures of mass transit and rogue icicle accidents - birth and death take us to our knees with our foreheads pressed against the cold tile of the shower, because any wall can stand in when the wailing is too much for the heart and Israel is too far away in time or space or faith.
The plainest and commonest of experiences are truth enough.
I've been holding many stories while I wait patiently for others to unlock the deep and otherwise private secrets of those closest to me. Many of us do this like spiritual ventriloquists; we throw our voices and dance wildly in the streets to pull focus from a wound that's not ready to air.
A story that hasn't found it's own words yet.
Our words cannot dispel another's grief. Spoken out of turn, we shine a light on the tender flesh that is trying to heal and even when the light is cast out of love, it can burn.
So today, I feel for you who keep secrets for others. Not out of shame or fear, but out of respect that their story is theirs and that it will emerge in time. Let me encourage you that after that time, your story will follow. Your experience of a story IS your story, whether you think it belongs to you or not. You know where you were on September 11th, even if where you were was a top-tier college dorm huddled around a 10" television and not running barefoot through the plume.
My story is valid because I have lived it, even if it sparked from burning embers that flew in across the ridge - and so is yours.