So I want to visit that phrase “I can’t imagine.”
First, let me be clear: I say this phrase frequently with the best of intentions, and have been catching myself + rephrasing every time I say it. Because after witnessing too many life and death moments in a year with the people I love most, I don’t think I could have EVER imagined the visuals my brain now likes me to picture when it’s least convenient. So I’m here to share my opinion on the seemingly-innocent phrase “I can’t imagine. ”
Here’s the deal. If I rewind two years back…Aaron and I were grabbing coffees and the worst part of our day was when one of us accidentally said “you too” after the barista told us to enjoy our drinks.
Here I am two years later, wishing I could have that same social crisis and it be the most uncomfortable part of my day. I couldn’t imagine that instead I would have an unexpectedly dead BFF mom, unexpectedly dead BFF soulmate, and be a widowed + single mother to a child with a lifelong disability and intense medical complexities. And here I am. Here we are. I still woke up this morning (sad people still do things sometimes), I imagined punching some faces and bad memories at boxing, and am now sipping my same old basic blended coffee as I draft the start to a book about all of those things that I couldn’t ever imagine before.
I plan to share the stories of Aaron, my mom, Sloan, my grandpa, etc – the lessons learned and the memories to be shared from their really beautiful, unique, untold life experiences. So here I am on the path to starting a new life, carrying all of these memories and loved ones with me as I go.
But damn. I can really imagine the heaviness of life today and would love to go back to no imagination of it.
I just want to take a moment to pause and reflect on this phrase and, if used, how it’s intended. For me, when someone sits in the heaviness of life and imagines getting the call about their mom dying, finding their spouse gone, or learning about their child’s diagnosis – it simply means the world. I don’t have to make it pretty, validate anyone else, or gloss over anything. And there is another person facing it with me.
With the state of the world and a long list of seemingly endless injustices, the phrase “I can’t imagine” helps nobody. (Except for maybe that one person trying to quickly escape the conversation. 🤣) So instead of saying “I can’t imagine” – we could sit in the heaviness, learn from + educate each other, and begin moving toward a future of growth and (maybe just maybe) hope. None of us are alone when life gets heavy. So when someone opens up to us about their heavy stuff, it’s our chance to say “I hurt with + for you. Let’s face it together.” Instead of….”I can’t imagine.” At some point we’ll all be witnessing things we never wanted to imagine, and that’s the moment when we’ll want people right along side us imagining and sitting in the heavy with us, too.
And lastly, the people that sit in the heavy really do exist – I see it all the time. So thank you to those of you who have sat with me in this. Thank you to those of you who also sat with my mom, Aaron, and Sloan in their life experience – epitomizing love, acceptance, and kindness. I can imagine ALL the things now – the really bad and the really good – and I am grateful to have people sitting with us in it today. And just know that when your heavy time hits – I’ll imagine and sit in it with you, too.