Sometimes I’m torn between sitting down and absorbing the pain I see in the newspaper detailing tragedy both international like Syria, and local like the biker who was killed on his way to work a few weeks ago, or actively pushing it into the mental head space of head-shakes, and getting up and making dinner and washing sheets and going about my day.
And sometimes like today, as I clean up and listen to NPR discuss the lives lost in Aurora, Colorado and the Sikh Temple, and now, as they discuss the guilty plea by the killer in the Gabby Gifford shootings where a nine year old girl was shot, I sit down and cry because there’s only so much you can attempt to pretend that you’re any different from anyone else.
I can’t get it out of my head. People at a place of worship. Like millions are doing in Mosques everywhere this Ramadan. Where I will be on Eid-ul-Fitr in less than ten days. People watching a movie just like I watch movies. Heading to a local political campaign. The goal of terror is to make you change your way of life, to move the way fear moves you. But I can’t lie and say that I didn’t see the Batman Movie because of the shooting or that that I won’t be looking at all the exits come Eid day.
Each of those people were filled with their worries and to-do lists. Nap schedules and dinner menus. The paint job that just has to be done and the way your husband can’t get enough of Prison Break on Netflix even though its increasingly soapy plot is slowly driving you nutty. You go to the grocery store. You buy movie tickets. You go to meet your friends and pray.
And then you don’t. And suddenly none of it matters.
Having a child is a beautiful thing and it leaves you cracked with the knowledge of just how much there is to lose. News stories like this always made me sad but now they twist with a particular pain like shards of glass rubbing against my skin. All I can think of is the horror of the families left with loss. Of how no matter what things will never be okay again.
Like Susan, I fight daily the fear of my life being ripped from me. Because tragedy happens every minute of every day, some in ways that make the news, and some in ways that don’t. I represented sick children. I’ve chatted with parents pushing their children with bald heads and princess outfits to their next oncology visit. News-making violence, daily tragedy, disease– it can happen to anyone. At any time.
Death is a part of life. Most days I can co-exist with this knowledge, but some days when I look at my son who at this moment sits by his bookshelf reading aloud Goodnight Moon, all I can think about is those kids who now don’t have a parent, or a parent who doesn’t have their child. And it terrifies me. The grief for these families is so heavy its an actual tangible feeling, that leaves me unable to breathe. No one deserves to lose a child. No young child deserves to lose a parent. And yet there’s no rhyme or reason for a beautiful ordinary life turning into a nightmare from which there is no escape.
I will take a deep breath. I will get up and make my son his lunch. And I will push these fears down deep inside. One must live, love, and smile, carrying on with the knowledge of life’s fragility. There really is no other option.
If you made it to the end of this meandering post, thanks for listening.