It was the middle of the afternoon. You called. Three hours away. We hadn’t talked in a week or two.
You sobbed, I can’t do this anymore. I really think this time, I can’t go back to work. I just don’t think I can do it.
You told me of those final hours of the hearing. Of the waiting with the family. Sharing snacks and patting knees. You told me of visiting with her when you could. You told me how her face looked in the room. You told me about the hours of testimony. The people who said she’d spent years being abused. And when the decision came, after all the evidence, after all the words on her behalf, it still wasn’t enough. She was in for good.
And you tried to stay strong. For her. For the family. And, oh you did. But the tears came. And as we talked they came again and your voice broke. Will this ever get any easier, you asked?
You were at your edge. The edge of turning away. Of numbing or cracking or giving it all up for work that doesn’t have these kinds of edges. You were right there at that spot, peering over.
And there was nothing I could say to make it better. To change the verdict. To make it easier. To promise that next time it would be different. Instead, I let you sob. I practiced more of this art we practice of holding space for each other.
You came back from that edge. Thank God for that. And yet that edge and all the ones that came before and that came after, shaped you and your work. That’s what they do. They shape us. They tattoo the lessons and memories and questions on our spirits.
I have mine too.