Today, I heard so much pain and sadness. I am not sure if my little mama’s heart can handle this much suffering.

I had my first Lifeline shift this morning “flying solo”. There was a supervisor in the building, and another crisis supporter, so I had company. But there was just me on one end of the phone, and someone in a lot of pain on the other.

I spoke to the first woman for about twenty-five minutes. She had grown up being sexually abused by her father and her grandfather. She had then been in a domestic violence marriage for many years. Now she was single with grown up children. She was sad because she felt she had no-one to turn to, and no-one to trust. She sounded like such a beautiful person – so giving and generous and kind. I held these gifts out for her…reflected back her beautiful and kind spirit, and she took it gladly.

My next call was a suicide intervention. The young man was very depressed and suffered from OCD. He spent most of his time when not working in his room staring at the carpet. He doubted himself constantly; he felt stupid and worthless. He couldn’t imagine any other way but to end it all. We talked for over an hour. There were things he wanted to live for…we just needed to find them. In the end, he promised me he would keep safe, and would call his friend this afternoon. I hope he did.

As soon as I set the phone to ready again, it rang, and I took yet another suicide call. A man cried and cried into the phone. He had thought about suicide all weekend, and this morning flagged down his neighbour asking for help. She called Lifeline. He has recently stopped smoking dope, without any support, and lies every day feeling empty and alone with only his busy mind. We promised me he would go straight to hospital to try to find help. I hope he did.

This afternoon, my daughter has also been crying. She has a cold, and as it does every time, the cold has gone to her chest and she has a nasty cough. She hasn’t eaten much for three days, and her sleep has been fitful. She woke up from her afternoon nap crying. She cried her way through dinner, which she didn’t eat anyway, and then rolled on the floor in a fit of sadness and frustration because I didn’t have the right icy-pole for her. Finally, listening to “If I had words” (from the Babe soundtrack) my shield collapsed, and I did too, crying for the first time in months. At once, Elka’s tears stopped and she looked into my eyes. “Mumma, are you OK?” She stroked my face with her tiny hand.

I was proud of myself today. My bowl of love and giving was full, but didn’t spill. I contained all the pain and emotion that crossed my path. I was able to hold it all. Caring for a sad and sick child was the last thing I felt I could handle today, but I did, and I could. A mother’s strength is deep as the ocean. Just when you think you have gone as deep as you can go, you fall deeper, and the sea gets darker and colder.