Our team leader was coming into town to meet with us, and he had e-mailed his plan for the meetings before he arrived. I looked at it and shook my head and laughed. I know he is famous for cramming more in a schedule than can possibly fit, and he arrives here and tries to do ten things at once at high speed, runs out of time, and then leaves with half of it undone; but this was even a little much for him! The schedule had on the first morning 'debrief from the trip" as well as "evaluate changes in regards to this crisis". By afternoon, he was going to move on to re-evaluating our mission statement, and the next day was slated for strategy meetings for next year.
I showed it to my husband and he smiled. Debrief four people AND plan new security all in ONE morning - oh, and that is AFTER fitting in two devotionals?! I envisioned the chipmunk speed talking and laughed. I knew what it would end up as - we would run out of time and be hurried along. It is what always happens.
It was almost noon before the devotionals were done. Then an unusual member of our team decided a impromptu funny skit would help relax everyone and help them talk about their feelings. So she rounded up people to do that. It was not funny and was really awkward, but we all tried to play along. It really made us cringe because it involved tying up my husband and beating him (yes, with something soft, but still!). It just wasn't funny. But this person is unique, and she thought it would help. Got to love her even with quirks... she did come through later with some wisdom! But as the weeks went on in the "recovery phase", I began to see that many people are like her. They all have ideas of what we need to be "fixed" or to "help us recover". So people did things, said things, acted in certain ways. Some thought we needed to just go on, so they did. They tried not to talk about it so we would not have to think about it. Others were sure we needed to tell them just then what we felt, so they pried. Others tried more 'unique" methods like this awkward drama.
I've thought about it since then wondering what did I really need. I am not sure I have a solid answer. I didn't know myself. But I needed someone who had time for me. Someone who asked me what I needed and had time to wait for me to think through the answer to that. I needed someone who wasn't looking for the exciting story, someone who wasn't trying to make it go away, someone who wasn't looking for results right then... but who had time to drink coffee with me and be quiet in case I thought of something I wanted to say.
I still have those things I think of that I want to say - even now - but who do I say them to? I can't pop up in a conversation about the end of school party and just say, "I remember thinking that when they kill him that at least the other one will get out and ... and... if there is anyone I want to be telling me about the last things we know about my husband, it is that one with him." But these thoughts still come up in my head... the quieter things... in the middle of the normal life going on around me, and it just doesn't work to drop those into conversations.
I needed someone to go for a walk with me, to sit and say nothing and throw stones into the pond with me just in case after thirty minutes that I think of something to say.... something I am not saying in my ten minutes I have with one or another when they want to hear the story.
They say time heals all things. I think it does... but not just time passing by, but people having time. If I've been hurt, have time for me. Time heals. You can't rush me through healing. You can't schedule when I open my heart. Time heals all things - give me your time.
After the drama, we began with the telling the story. The one who was able to walk away, but who saw and reported was there. We began with him, and it was good to hear his story. That cleared up questions I had about the time-line and why I was the last to hear and why it took four and a half hours before I was told. It was also good, as a group, and especially as the two of us, to look him in the eyes and thank him for walking away. We worried that he would second guess his decision, and feel guilty. One stayed and one walked away. But we needed the one who walked away in order to get help for those who could not. So we thanked him.
Then my husband told his story after lunch. It was a good time. All in all, once the awkwardness of the odd skit was gone, the day went well.
At least I thought it went well. Later I learned that when the wife of the one who got away shared how she felt and began to cry over how thankful she was to have her husband and how she realized how much he meant to her, that one person leaned over to her and said, "Get control of yourself, and quit being so emotional!" I did not hear that one since I was on the other side of the room. But I would have been tempted to snap back at that point. When, if not now, are you going to let this woman cry after all she's been through?
The day ended, and we would begin the next day. It was a pretty good day, and the group of us were happy to be together. I looked forward to the next day, and we went home and had a quiet evening with the kids.
We had no idea what would hit the next day, and no idea that much of the pain of this crisis had yet to hit us.