When Lydia was thirteen, my father joked that she was the head of the Wounded Bird Society. Her greatest passion was caring. One of her greatest gifts to life was she cared.

Benjamin Salve to help healLife took a lot out of Lydia. It took her baby. It took the health, and ultimately the life, of her other child. And it took her life. Life took its toll on Lydia.

Lydia was a nurse by trade, not an uncommon trade for caring people. Much of her career she was as a psychiatric nurse. The last years of her life she worked at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas with HIV+ children and their families. Many times Lydia was sicker than her patients, but they didn’t even know. They didn’t know she, too, was HIV+.

Over thirty years ago, I read a book by Henri Nouwen called The Wounded Healer. In it he said, “For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.” Lydia was a compassionate person. Lydia was a wounded healer.

Benjamin Wounded healerEveryone on this planet has been wounded. It’s part of the price of admission. Most, if not all, who have found their way to this page have been wounded by the devastation of loss. For me, my loss is in perpetual healing. My love never ends. My healing never ends. Loss is a wound that I carry and heal daily, moment-by-moment.

To be a healer of wounds I must embrace my wounds. I can reach another’s sorrow only through my own path of sorrow. I can sit in silence in the rhythm of their broken heartbeat in harmonic resonance by remembering the rhythms of my once broken heart.

Even though my heart has healed, its brokenness has left an imprint. My wound has left a scar that another who carries the same wounding can see.  We meet in the Afterloss at different times, but in the same space.

In the last months of Lydia’s life we knew she was going to die before Matt. Balancing between the deaths of her children Lydia was left in the sorrow of what was gone and what was yet to be taken.

We decided to make some videos for Matt to remember his mother. Not really remember, for who ever forgets the ones we love? The videos were for Matt to grieve his mother.

Lydia chose several books to read. She knew her time of reading to him at bedtime was to slip away soon; so she chose her favorite books that touched her and she wanted to touch Matt.

One of the children’s books Lydia read was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. It’s about this tree that befriends a little boy. At first she gives her apples. Through the years she gives the young man various parts of herself. At the end of the old man’s life, all the tree had left to give was a stump for him to sit on. The giving tree had given everything.

When there is nothing left, what is left to give? Everything. And that’s what Lydia gave. The only thing she had left was the wound that was to take her life. And in that wound she chose to heal – to be a healer of Matt, to be a healer of others…and to be a healer of me.

I surface from my wanderings in the Afterloss with wounds that are still open and wounds that have healed. I carry both into my days and they rest within me at night. They are apart of me. I ask that they be of my service to others. I ask that I may walk with another in our woundedness and experience our healing together.

I spend much of my world of the Afterloss alone. But I do not heal my wounds alone. There is Spirit. There is you. We are all healers of wounds in my Afterloss.

The day before Bryan died Lydia made a different kind of video. She wanted to show others what it was like to clean and bandage Bryan’s central line, a tube that went directly into his heart in order to administer the pain medicine.

Bryan was in the hospital when she was making this video of cleaning his central line. She calmly and professionally walked through the ordeal describing every part of the process. Then at the end, she picked Bryan up from the medical bed and placed him against her chest as she sat down in the rocking chair. It was time to breastfeed her baby. She went from nurse to mother. It was then her tears began to form. It was then she gently said, “Turn off the camera now.”

Lydia was a wounded healer. The head of the Wounded Bird Society as a young teenager became a healer of wounds in the world she lived and died.

It is out of our wounds we find healing. It is out of our healing we become healers. When I touch those places of extreme pain I asked that this pain not go in vain. My one request is that my sorrow can be the salve to help heal, not just me, but us. And that we can become the healer of wounds.





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