Good grief, my friend said when she saw me, what happened to you?
I fell in the garden. This was an understatement. I had slipped on my new stone walk while watering with the hose, and had gone face down like a tree. Ugh, I had thought as I lay prostrate, feeling every bone in my face and wondering if I still had teeth. I rested a moment, trying to remember what my appointments were for the next couple of weeks and how many of them were in front of a paying audience, and then I got up and finished the watering. By the time I got back inside and found a mirror, I looked like a monster.
I put ice on my swollen lip and nose. I couldn't do much about their color, which was deep red, or about the deep scrape on the bridge of my nose, right where my glasses rest. I couldn't do much about any of it - I had a ton of work to do before leaving for Cursillo in the afternoon. I did the weekend looking like Rocky Balboa.
A surprising number of people didn't ask me what had happened to my face. Many people politely pretended not to notice my contusions -- maybe they thought I was recovering from a facelift, or maybe they thought I had contracted a flesh-eating virus and that it would be rude to draw attention to it. I found myself bringing it up first -- "I don't always look like this," I said during the introductions, and everybody laughed.
I found myself wanting to talk about this thing that had happened, this thing that really wasn't so bad, but wasn't all that good, either.
We don't want to hurt people's feelings. Don't want to make them feel bad. Don't want to remind them of their troubles. Don't want to be rude. And so we hang back from the obvious sorrows of others; we don't bring them up.
Lord, have mercy.