Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Capacity

When Tucker was born, my heart was overwhelmed with a consuming love for this little person, this complete little boy, who had grown inside me, just beneath my heartbeat.


I studied him as a newborn, the cowlick that matches mine (straight up from the inside of his right eyebrow), the dimpled hands, the sounds of his cry that carried subtle meanings, a language all our own.


I fell in love. I began to wrap my mind around this enchantment, this undeniable bond that carried me through even our stir crazy days.


My heart was full.


And when I became pregnant with Tyler, I feared that my heart couldn't possibly contain any more joy, any more love. How could I love another one as much?


And then I met Tyler. And on the very day he was born, I realized how foolish my fears had been. Of course I could love this one - just as much.


I studied him as a newborn, the cowlick that matches mine (straight up from the inside of his right eyebrow), the long and slender feet, the pointed chin, the golden hair.


And my heart was full... fuller than before.


I am learning that the heart has no capacity for joy. There is always room for more. It's not made up of percentages, portions to divide and pieces to share accordingly. It is one big mess of affection, overlapping into one another, still with strands all their own.


Parents with many, many children say the same... your home may reach is capacity, but your heart never, ever will. There's always room for more.


But, I assert that pain is quite the opposite.


I think my heart has a capacity for pain, a limit to the hurt it will hold. Emptiness has its boundary; there comes a place where there is no more emptiness to pour.


I have read stories of people struck with hypothermia; they feel cold, painfully cold, freezing cold, and then they don't feel anymore. The limbs that are frozen stop hurting. They have been wounded too deeply to feel it any longer. And in the most severe cases, those who nearly die in the blizzard, say that a warmth comes over them, a cozy calling to sleep.


Burns to the skin are rated by degree: first, second, and third. Third degree burns are so severe that they destroy the nerve endings; the injured one stops feeling the pain.


The heart has its capacity; the body can only handle so much.


I am at my capacity.


I think of other things that could go wrong in my life, other dreams that may some day be shattered by death. While a different loss would present a different angle, a different lens, I'm not sure it could hurt more. I'm not sure I can hurt more. The brain and body must cope somehow.


I may hurt differently. But I'm not sure I could hurt more.


And there is a third facet to my contention: as the wound begins to heal, as joy begins to return, as I begin to feel again and anew, my heart begins to feel the pain that comes with joy. In the face of joy, in the warmth of healing, I realize just how deep this wound has gone. And it hurts.


As a person begins to thaw from hypothermia, as feeling returns, it brings excruciating pain.


It is part of the journey.


I am learning my heart's capacity: the spill of joy, the outpouring of emptiness, the pain of both.


I am learning. And learning has no capacity at all.

2 comments:

Janeen said...

oh that humans had a way to really give others a respite... I cry with you, for you, I'd help you scratch your itches if I were in your circle and could reach you... I can only ask Jesus to step in beside you, and I know you know He's there, and I know sometimes even that answer really doesn't help much. Oh, that there were a way, any way... <3

Katy said...

I cannot compare any of my hurts to yours, but I do know the feeling of pain mixed with joy. When my son was diagnosed with Down syndrome, I thought we would never be happy again. And then when I was able to start feeling happy, it was accompanied by a pain... like it was tainted. I know you don't know me, Tricia, but I'm praying for you and the boys.