I am feeling sluggish. I need a jump start, a jolt, a pick me up. Maybe a quick fix or a distraction. Something to get me going or at least lift my spirits. What a luxury that would be. Instead I find myself crying uncontrollably.
This last tragedy has been too much. We don't live in Oklahoma, but other people do. We don't know any of them, but some body does. I haven't lost a close member of my family, but other people have very recently. My heart hurts. The same way it hurt after Newton, Boston, and West Texas this year. The same way it hurts when I think of a member of my family, my husband, or one of my children no longer being with me. It just aches. How does anyone every get over a loss like that?
I talked with a woman from church today who had lost her husband in a car accident when she was my age with six small children to care for. That was twenty years ago. I have heard enough stories like this, and many of them fairly recently, that I worry every time my husband steps on a plane without me, or when he gets called in the middle of the night and has to drive to work, and even when he just gets in the car and we aren't with him.
I used to think that bad things didn't happen very often, but now they seem frequent. I used to think that natural disasters were rare, but now there seems to be a new one every six months. Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Floods. I used to think that lightning wouldn't strike twice - but sometimes it does.
One of the side effects of getting older is that you see more and remember more. You become less self obsessed and more aware of what happens outside of your small circle. The world that used to seem too big becomes very small. With each passing year and tragedy the number of horrors available to my memory increases as well. I think I understand what my father-in-law means when he says he has lived long enough to see nearly all of his friends pass away. Not only has he lived that long, but he has lived to see a world war, participate in other wars, watch family members die, hundreds of natural disasters, car accidents, and countless other heart breaks along the way. How does a person hold that much pain and sorrow?
Logically I know that life marches on, but emotionally how does one ever get over the pain of losing someone like a spouse or a child without warning? Or even when you have warning for that matter? It is overwhelming to consider the magnitude of pain and grieving.
Two weeks ago we had a natural disaster scare while I was separated from my children. I volunteered to give blood on behalf of a member of our church congregation at the local blood bank. Her son was receiving transfusions while waiting for a bone marrow match and they needed more. I offered to donate partly so I could do a good deed and partly so I could take advantage of the free babysitting a friend had offered because she couldn't give blood.
Earlier that morning I had talked about having lunch with my husband when we were through. The stars were going to align. We would be dressed, already in the car, and in need of lunch at the exact moment he would be available. But as I was hooked up, squeezing that little ball to make the blood flow, I was watching the weather. A massive storm was coming our way. It looked like it was going to miss our particular suburb but was going to be headed downtown where the hospital was.
I called to tell him that we weren't going to be coming in today because of the storm, and that the skies, even from inside the building where I was, were growing darker. Minutes later when I got in my car rain had begun to fall and then suddenly it was dark. The rain was falling so hard that I couldn't see. The wind was blowing and traffic was all but stopped.
I didn't have very far to go when I received a call from the woman babysitting my kids, telling me that they were fine but they were going to seek shelter. I have never felt so helpless. Two of my children were with someone else, two were at school, my husband was at work, and I was all alone. Being separated from the people you love during moments of terror is one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. And this was just a minor incident, although it didn't feel minor at the time.
After the storm had passed and the kids were safely back at home, my son told me how they were all scared and he had cried at school. Maybe because this happened so close to the tornado in Oklahoma my emotions are still raw and exposed. All I can think about is those poor mothers with their children in the school and not being able to get to them to comfort them and reassure them.
Regardless of what is happening in the world I want to be with my children and my husband while it is happening. Everything seems to be manageable when we are together. I am so grateful for my family, and pray for those who have had members of their family taken from them.