The Sadness Beneath The Surface

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“My older brother died of brain cancer, too,
just like your son. It was a long time ago.
No one talked about it back then.”

“I was only 17 years old,
just like your daughter.
I’ve never gotten over it.”

I was managing a meeting,
and told a story about my son.
Something I occasionally do.

Had I not, we might have passed each other,
like two ships in the dead of night,
without discovering the brutal bond we share.

Instead, like one humpback whale vocalizing to another,
I offered a small sign as if to say, “I am here.
“So am I,” my client signaled back.

I wonder how many times
I have missed what lay just below the surface,
Sailed by without ever knowing what lay hidden under waves of grief.

On days when everything goes grim and gray,
and the shoreline feels far away,
it can be hard to look up and see the sky.

If only our sadness could speak,
like a lighthouse calling us home,
illuminating what’s all around us.

The ocean of life can be rough and lonely,
yet we need not sail alone.

There are people all around us
with hurting hearts and open wounds.

Their understanding could ease our own
if we could only just locate their light.

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