Out of suffering
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” — Kahlil Gibran
This photo is rather odd, but it seems fitting as a symbol for where Jeff is now, in a place of past nightmares and trauma, somehow surviving (thus far) life-threatening complications and tremendous pain, holding on in a position where his strength is likely to fade quickly. His stamina and endurance are unbelievable, but insofar as any human has limits, we have to fear that he is surely approaching his. We continue to need and appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers.
About the photo: when we visited Dachau with our friends in August 2005, we drove around searching for the parking and main entrance. It was quite obvious from the walls and barbed wire that we were at the camp, but we weren’t sure where to start touring. Steve and Aaron got out to inquire, going through a gate that looked too small to be an entrance, and when they did not return after a few minutes, Amy and I convinced Jeff to see if he could find them.
We didn’t mean “look over the wall” but that’s what Jeff did. Instead of going through the same gate Aaron and Steve had entered, he walked over to the wall and somehow jumped to a position where he could pull himself up to look over. Amy and I were in the car cracking up. I don’t remember how long Jeff was up there, but naturally I went for my camera and got a shot of him scanning the grounds of Dachau, looking for Steve and Aaron. Our visit to Dachau was sobering and unforgettable, but this photo survives as the only note of levity of a day spent in a heartrendingly tragic setting; a flash of laughter in a day devoted to the remembrance of seemingly endless tears.
I am comforted today by this reminder of strength and humor in a desolate landscape. Like those who survived Dachau, Jeff will bear forever on his body the marks of what he has endured. May he live many years to reflect on blessings and joy that lie on the other side of his pain.
One year ago today: