About a month ago Nikhil and I were having dinner and he looked at me oh so casually and said, “So hey, I’m launching my book in April and I think it would be really great if you could say a few things.” I thought to myself, this guy has suffered a broken heart and is now dealing with a broken body, his cancer. What could I possibly say about suffering that would echo his thoughts when I haven’t suffered a great deal physically? I haven’t been faced with a life-threatening illness that could take me away from the people and things I love the most. But, I enthusiastically agreed to it; I was honoured that he wanted me to share in such a special occasion.
As the weeks passed, I started to think more and more about what I would say. It wasn’t until I had the book in my hand that I was able to put pen to paper. I opened the book and per Nikhil’s instructions, I closed my eyes and picked a page by chance. The verse I landed on, to me, defines the entire message behind this book, “You and I are together in our suffering, though we don’t know each other. Though time and space separate us, you and I are together. You are never alone.”
What a beautiful and powerful message. The word “suffer” is universal. We all suffer at some point, whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, we all hurt. We may feel isolated and misunderstood, but we’re really not alone in our suffering. At some point everyone has suffered, everyone in this room has suffered. When we’re in a place of darkness, often times we feel we’ll never see the light, but somehow, someway we‘re no longer trapped in our suffering.
Too often we’re told, oh you’ll be over it soon, you’ll feel better in a month, it will be a thing of the past before you know it. But the thing is there’s no meter on suffering, no time limit. That’s what this book does; it does not give us the answers to find the light, but gives us the tools we need to find our own way out of our suffering, in our own time.
Our tragedies do not define us; it’s how we deal with our suffering that shapes us. Nikhil chose to share his suffering through this book, a blog and a radio show. He chose to share in his suffering with the world because he knew his sufferings, all our sufferings, no matter what they may be, are universal. I followed along with every blog post, every radio segment. I looked forward to his blog posts, but it wasn’t until one day when Nikhil wrote a post specifically about his pain did I actually realize just how much pain he was in. That’s the thing about suffering; people deal with and express it in so many ways. I saw someone on the surface that was happy, and sure, this crappy thing was happening to him, but to me he was the same Nikhil, full of inappropriate and ill timed jokes, still wanted to eat out, drink, dance, and just live life to the fullest like he always did. I remember reading that post at work and just breaking down. One of my closest friends was in pain and I couldn’t fix it, he couldn’t fix it. We just had to deal with it. Accept it.
When you’re suffering, everyday you conquer a challenge and everyday a new challenge is presented. It may seem like walls are going up around you, but you have the ability to break them down. I have suffered from a broken heart; a chapter ended in my life that I thought was my beginning chapter, the start of my life and I was and still am devastated, but every day it gets a little easier. Nikhil and I have had many discussions about our pain and the thing we always take comfort in, is knowing that all things end, even pain. And the end of pain is joy. We will always carry a part of that suffering with us and for Nikhil, his suffering and his end to suffering are on the pages of this book. As I read through the pages, my heart found refuge.
I’ll leave you with a page from the book that I opened to by chance when trying to think of what to leave you all with…”Hold me freely in your thoughts, and we will find each other. Lend me your strength and mercy and take mine. Doubled in power, we walk through the night into a bright day.”