The other day, I put the bag with the tall, thin, metal sign I was carrying (think Stop sign material) on the sidewalk and crouched down to pick up something. Moving quickly, I bent over and the sign drove straight into my neck. I jolted back up as my eyes watered before I could process where the pain was coming from. I tried to mutter out a few words to my friend but truly felt unable to breathe for several seconds.
I ran my fingers across my neck, grateful for no broken skin, and wiped my eyes. I explained what had happened to my companions and we went about our day.
About an hour later, I found myself still holding onto my neck, and gently massaging the area of impact. We all decided that it was going to be a pretty solid bruise and that I was lucky it was turtleneck season.
That night, as I tried to sleep, I felt the lingering ache and anticipated what would meet me in the mirror in the morning.
The next day, nothing. I could feel the swelling and tenderness of my neck but from all outward appearances, I was absolutely fine.
We were all shocked there was no obvious mark and commented so.
But I knew that it still hurt.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since then—about how something can be deeply painful and non-apparent at the same time. I thought about how, in some poetic metaphor that I’ve not yet to fully work out, it hurts more when I laugh.
At the end of the day, though, it leaves me with an important reminder. We can’t always see each other’s hurts. But we can work on love. And we can learn to be a little more careful with big metal signs.