So Full it Hurts

We printed photos today – 30 snapshots of ten months of travel. Glimpses, faces, smiles, scenes from an incredible journey. We tacked them all above our living room couch, swatches of color swimming on a sea of royal blue, a collage of life. When we had finished, we sat back and took it all in, eyes lingering on each photo, memories flooding our minds, love overcoming our hearts. It was too much. Too beautiful and too painful – the wonder of so much love, the loss of so many goodbyes. I surveyed it all and wept.

“I miss our family” I said.

“This family?” Andrew asked, nodding toward the wall. I nodded, tears trailing down my cheeks.

“Nobody is going to understand this when we get home,” I whispered.

For how can we explain to you the hundred, the thousand small stories that fill our hearts? How can we tell of Neha’s sweet smile or Rekha’s huge heart or Suresh’s dance moves or Tashi’s swagger in rain boots and red coat? How can we express the meaning of a rooftop serenade or an impromptu opera mid-workday? How do chronicle the love that has been shared on thread-strewn floors and crowded rooms and cozy homes and kitchen tables and barren fields and classrooms and villages and wooded trails and dusty streets? How can we describe the hospitality of a houseful of girls or a Catholic brotherhood or a couple of strangers-turned-friends in Serbia? We cannot relate the air in the mountains or the laughter around a dinner table or the long dusty train rides across a continent. We can tell you the big stories, we have been telling you the big stories of places and people and experiences and discoveries and conflict and love and hope and beauty. These are the tell-able tales.

But it is the small stories, the moments that fill each day, which now fill our hearts. Unless we were to forfeit all the present in the retelling of the past, we can never tell you about all these minutes, all of the life that has filled our days, which have filled our weeks, which have filled our months, which will fill a year and a half.

And so I sit and weep with a heart heavy – laden with the wonderful burden of a life so full it hurts.


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