This is an edited version of a blog I published for Christmas a couple of years ago….
Picture this scene…
They walked slowly down the dirt path, Forrest with a little confusion and Jenny with a great deal of dread...you remember the scene.
Jenny walked to within yards of the home where all the horror took place...She stared at the old house, dilapidated beyond repair, but still a fortress that was a testimony to her pain. She took one of her shoes off and threw it at the house in defiance...almost as if to knock it down; the grave marker to the death she felt inside. She fell to her knees and wept bitter sad tears over the loss of innocence...the theft of her childhood. Forrest didn't know why, but he knew he needed to comfort her, and he did.
“Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Fast forward to the present, and segue from a beautiful if altogether bittersweet film into real life. Picture a woman...you'll have to picture this, since she's really not a woman on the outside, and she's not young or pretty like Jenny. But she still is too much like the character. She stands in the parking lot and looks up at the apartment sandwiched between offices on the second floor. She sees the window of the room where all of her own horror took place.
"Lei fottutamente bastardi, spero che lei bruciare all'inferno!" (You fucking bastard...I hope you burn in hell!)
She says to no one...a ghost perhaps, dead and gone for decades. She thinks of her sister; her near twin... only two years separated their birth. Had she a stone she would have hurled it at the window that mocked her pain...Had she a hero, the building would have been destroyed long ago, like Forrest did for Jenny.
She stood in the parking lot; the lunchtime crowd was beginning to exit from the offices to their cars. They would have seen her, but paid no heed, if she had cared. She had no rock and the building stood, as it had for decades; almost a headstone to mark the death of her own innocence and the loss of her childhood, along with her sister, and her five cousins...
She wasn't raised a girl..Nor did she live as one, even today, but in her heart she had been a girl all of her life, in some large part, sharing space with the man who stood in her place in the parking lot that day. She wept bitter, angry and helpless tears.
"Non è giusto... di Dio, perché?" (It's not fair...Why, God?)
An answer came, hardly soothing or comforting, but true none the less. Comfort would come another day, and soon, but then it was small consolation to know that there never really had been fair or unfair. Life just is, and justice is often meted out of sight and out of remembrance. Her comfort would come in the form of a letter from a friend, with hugs and "I'm here for you"
Her healing had already begun...her wife held her every night...not as the woman she saw herself, but the husband of decades who was treasured by her spouse beside her. By her son, who didn't know her, but loved and respected the man with whom she had shared a lifetime. By a brother who hugged and wept and kissed her neck, even if he didn't know it was her he was kissing.
A phone call from an old friend who wept at the telling of the horror...who said,
"I am so sorry...I don't know what to say, but call me any time"...decades of close contact with another who never knew her but loved him like a brother.
I have watched Forrest Gump so many times, I've forgotten how many....enough to say that I love the film. I cry every time I see it...every time. But I never knew until this week, almost a revelation...I've always identified with Jenny...the girl who loves and encourages Forrest...the girl who feels broken and ashamed and damaged.
But also the girl who is renewed by the love of someone dear to her. In the last six months, even as the pain slowly subsides, even as the heart is mended, I've discovered only this week why I identified with Jenny...maybe obvious to some...we share a past that is all too similar even if she's a character and I'm alive. My wife understands even if she knows virtually nothing about this part of me...Andrea....she understands and hold me close as I become whole. And my son and my brothers and my real-life family and friends.
But also those who I've described and so many more who have come along side me to bind my wounds and dry my tears. Those who have wept with me but also given me reason to laugh and smile again. I am indebted to you all, as you are my family as well.
In the midst of sorrow, there can also be joy, if you look hard enough. In the midst of pain and sadness, there can be hope if you can open your eyes to the things that may never take the place of what you've lost, but serve as a new beginning of life. In this time of blessing and wonder and joy, I want to wish all of you here a very rewarding and satisfying holiday...Christmas...a time of birth and promise and hope. And I pray for you all to have a joyous new year, filled with dreams realized and hopes fulfilled.
Now, even more than before, it is true that there can be hope. I consider it a privilege and a divine blessing that I have been welcomed into the community of survivors at Tree Climbers. Or to paraphrase Forrest Gump,
Sometimes there might not be enough rocks but there just might be more than enough friends.