I fell asleep last night thinking about more tragic losses in our country, and woke up with new sad stories posted all over the Internet. I can only read so many articles, and I avoid almost all video. My imagination with words alone is enough most of the time. My heart aches once again along with countless victims of loss, and I wonder sometimes how much a heart can take.
Today is my Friday off and Travis left for work more than an hour ago. Once the house was quiet, I spent at least a half hour more in our dim family room with our new dog Neville laying on his side to my left, and our cat, Stella, softly sleeping on the couch by my feet. How lucky Neville and Stella are – to have the problems of cats and dogs. How lucky they are to not know of guns, and hatred, and violence. In that half hour, while they were peacefully resting, and my heart was not, I read Facebook posts and the news, until I finally got up to brew some coffee, open windows, and let some light in. And now I’m here, in front of this blank space, trying to sort out my feelings with words. I don’t want to read anymore, and I don’t want to see anymore. Not now, anyway, because I already know enough that my heart wants to be outside my body on the ground, or locked in a box where it doesn’t have to feel.
The thing is, I know to some tiny extent what families in Dallas and Minnesota and Louisiana will go through. I cannot speak to their tragedy, because I know we are in different situations. But I do know what it’s like to get a phone call out of no where and have your life flipped upside-down in one second. I know what it’s like to suddenly plan a funeral and make a thousand decisions you did not want to make. I know to a small extent what it feels like to have your loved one’s name in the news, and to know that reporters learned of your tragedy before you did. And then, when you’re in the middle of all your pain, a reporter calls your home and wants to talk about your loss.
What I do not know is losing a loved one out of hatred, and I do not know what it feels like to be in the middle of frightening chaos. I do not know what it’s like to have hurtful words splashed everywhere about a personal tragedy, a loved one, or a community I’ve lived in. I don’t know what it’s like to run from gunshots, or to fear for my life. I do not know what it feels like to be in the spotlight for something so terrible, and to have video of that terrible thing streamed everywhere for days. And all I can think is that it must be true hell. The worlds of families and friends have stopped completely and they are in a parallel universe called Hell on Earth. And while their pain is their own, it’s also mine, and yours, the country’s, and the world’s. I felt the same way after Paris, and San Bernardino, and Brussels, and Orlando. My heart twists in pain for the people in Istanbul and Iraq and for so many others who I can’t even name right now because it seems like there are too many losses spurred by hatred in recent days and months. What is life if we don’t love each other? What is life if we try to solve problems with violence? What is life if we don’t transform our societies from places filled with fear and hatred, to those filled with empathy and love?
I don’t have answers, and that is one of the most frustrating things. I want to write and say there is some silver lining, but I don’t see one. At this point, all I can hope for is that we mourn together, and that we won’t jump to conclusions, or create more hate. There is something transformative about grieving, and right now I hope the grief we collectively feel can carve space in our hearts for feeling broken, for loss, and for love.