Whilst recovering from pneumonia I've been watching the first and second series of The West Wing; it's the one good thing that's come out of enforced rest.
I loved The West Wing, it would be one of my top television series and watching it again has only increased its place on my personal ranking. If you've never seen it - give it a try!
The only downside of watching all these episodes of The West Wing is that they make me cry. And that's what's got me thinking and writing this post.
I know that I often used to cry when watching the weekly installment. I've also discovered that googling "West Wing" and "makes me cry" brings back hundreds of hits. But I've realised that my tears are coming from a source much deeper than those touched by the excellent acting of emotional scripts.
The first series of The West Wing aired in the US in 1999 and a bit later in the UK, but I didn't watch it until 2002.
The year 2002 will not find a place in the top ten greatest of my life, in fact I suspect it'll be somewhere near the bottom. This was the year of treatments and scans and tests and unexpected bleeding and terrifying waits in hospital clinics and more scans and bad news repeated over and over. 2002 was the first of three years going round the same awful cycle. Three years of pain that it's impossible to explain.
What's that got to do with watching The West Wing?
Well I've realised that when I hear the music at the start of the programme my heart clenches a bit. Quite a lot actually. The music takes me back to that time and the pain which didn't go away for years and which, if I'm honest with myself, is still there buried away not quite deep enough.
It doesn't seem to matter that I'm more than a decade on from this time. The music accesses my emotional memory, the music taps into my grief. My tears are tears of loss and pain for what could have been.
I'm a mother now, she's almost none for pities sake; and yet still the pain is real and alive. It's a bit like a volcano whose cap keeps getting dislodged allowing the hot lava of grief to spill out and destroy the new growth in its hillsides. And when I'm ill and my fear is high and my ability to be super mum is depleted, that's when the cap can vibrate about in response to the music of The West Wing and allow the white hot pain to spill out.
I was about to post this when a message came in from a friend to say she's having a miscarriage and I want to shout and scream for her. I want to post this to remind anyone who reads it how the pain endures and yet I don't want her to read it and feel worse.
I wish I knew what was best to do; I wish I knew the words to say to her that will help. But I know words can't help, not really and that she's hurting no matter what I might write or she might read. So instead I'll end this post with a prayer.
Father God I cry out to you today to be with all those who grieve the loss of their babies and to help heal their broken hearts. Amen.