When Loss Comes Closer

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And only the good die young…

 My mom and I had gone to see Billy Joel at Wrigley Field that Friday, and that was the song he closed with as we began to make our way toward the exit. We stopped for a little bit to dance and sing along with the rest of the boisterous crowd, but part of me was (and still is) unsettled by the song’s popularity. I had a really funny feeling that drove straight into my soul, and I remembered how I had lost a friend from high school to a drunk driving accident three years ago. But as I would come to find out two mornings later, that wasn’t the only reason why.

I will always remember the day he died, and the day I heard the news. On August 27, 2016 I was in Chicago for an unofficial high school reunion, sipping wine on an apartment balcony that overlooked the city. The next day, I was getting ready for a date when I noticed that I had two missed calls from my mom and brother, and they texted that I call them back immediately.

“There’s been a car accident and it was fatal,” my brother said. I called my mom and she confirmed the little that she knew. I don’t remember the actual feeling of being sucker punched, but all I could do was put my hands over my face and cry.

“Why?” I kept asking over and over to the empty bathroom. I had known Connor and his family from the time I was a baby; they were our neighbors and we had all pretty much grown up together. The accident happened during a rainstorm, and he was only twenty-two years old.

I laid down on my bed and instantly grabbed hold of my favorite blanket, a Hawkeye theme where the edges of the material had been tied together. His mom and sister had made it for me before I went to college, and I held onto it in times homesickness or stress. Even though I was no longer in Iowa, it continues to be a source of comfort, my “blankie,” if you will. I spent the rest of the day battling a splitting headache, probably because it was all too much to process at the time. I wanted to reach out to Kaitlyn, his older sister and one of my best friends. I knew that bullshit clichés and platitudes would be of little comfort, and more than likely more than one person was trying to pile them on.

The days leading up to the funeral were filled with anxiety, part of it relating to being in shock over the tragedy that had taken place. This wasn’t the first time I’d been faced with an unexpected passing in my life, but it was the first time I felt like I was allowed to openly grieve because I knew the person really well. On one hand I was numb, silently going through the motions and merely observing everything that was going on in the situation. But I also wanted to be strong for the others that were in mourning, as Connor was not only my brother’s best friend, but also my best friend’s brother. She has held me up during many difficult times in my life, and now it was my turn to do the same for her.

I arrived later than intended on the day of the service, so the process of saying goodbye while simultaneously offering support felt rushed and all over the place. Certain aspects of that day will remain in my memory forever: the look of anguish on my brother’s face as he helped bear Connor’s casket up and down the church aisle. My mom’s arms around me as we both stood and cried together. The way my legs shook in anticipation of finding the family and silently hugging each of them (and the way they seemed to be comforting me more than the other way around). It was all very much surreal, and I’m not the only one who felt like they were existing between reality and an unfathomable nightmare.

I had hoped and expected something inside of me to break, where the floodgates would be opened and I could get everything out and be done with it. When that didn’t happen, I became frustrated and uneasy, wondering if there was something that I needed to tap into or a switch that I needed to hit in order to find closure. I had heard that one of the ways to process the loss was to have a conversation with the deceased person. Knowing that I’m a much better writer than a conversationalist, I decided to write him a letter.

It was two pages of me reminiscing, grieving, and ultimately thanking him for being such a large part of my life. I had an amazing childhood, where the six of us practically lived in our own little world for at least a decade. At a more private memorial, I relayed stories that our parents hadn’t either known about (or had forgotten about) until then. I then did one final sendoff at sunset, releasing the words into the lake in us kids had grown up on, and would now hold a tender mixture of joy and pain. I began to understand that the grief would come in waves (which it still does) and would often hit me when I least expected it.

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There are no words to aptly describe the pain of losing someone so suddenly, and especially when they have so much life left in them. And it’s been painful to see people that loved him (and he loved just as much, if not more) in so much agony, although that’s not to say I regret bearing witness to it. In a weird and morbid way, I’m thankful that I allowed myself to see and feel everything that I could, even if it hurt like hell. Nobody wants to talk about the fact that death is part of life, although no amount of knowing and preparing will decrease the weight and impact of the loss. It fucking hurts, and it fucking sucks.

I don’t know if Connor’s passing happened for a reason, and I don’t think that everything does happen for a reason. Yet I have learned a lot about compassion, and what it means to show up for people in their darkest hour(s). For the love of all that is good in this world, please stop with the whole “If I can’t take away the pain, then it’s pointless to do anything” way of thinking. There is always something that you can do! Go to the person that’s hurting and let them know that you love them and that you’re there. There is so much love and power in the simple act of merely being there: sitting with them. Holding them. Letting them be sad and mutually sharing in that sadness.Listening. And if you can’t physically be present, you can still send flowers or a card or something. How much time does it really take to type out and send a text message that says, “I’m sorry for your loss”? Pick up the damn phone. Write a letter or an email. Whatever you do, know that the smallest amount of support and tenderness is better than nothing. Show up and show love.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but walking with someone through tragedy is NOT about your level of comfort. It’s not about you. I’ve learned how to be extremely vulnerable in those moments where I have no idea, to say, “I love you and I’m also terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing right now.” I understand that’s where a lot of the hesitation and resistance lies, because no one wants to make things worse or end up being the insensitive jackass who meant well but epically failed. There is grace in that, because at least the person is making an effort. Questions are always better than assumptions: “What do you need?” “How can I be there for you?” “Do you want to talk, or do you want to just sit in silence?” Never assume that you know what a grieving person wants or needs, just because you might want or need to do that in a difficult situation. Again, it’s not easy and often requires stepping out of your own box of comfort. But if it makes people feels less alone, then damn it, swallow your pride and do it.

I waited at least a day or so to tell anybody on the outside (unless I absolutely had to). I’ve had this habit of telling people too soon (when bad things happen) because it keeps me from being sucked into a black hole of depression and despair. Contrary to popular belief, it is helpful to have the support of those who didn’t know the deceased, or at least that’s how I feel. There were times where I needed to breathe emotionally. There were times where I desperately wanted the perspective of those who had already been through it, or whose minds weren’t shrouded in the clouds of unspeakable loss. When another friend died three years ago, I ended up turning to alcohol and random strangers for comfort. I didn’t want to numb the pain, but I wanted to feel connected.  And now I would rather be a raw, emotional wreck than go down the path of functioning alcoholism again.

Maybe it is expecting too much, or maybe it’s wanting to know that you and your experiences matter. It’s a lesson in real friendship, about who’s willing to be there and who isn’t. People make mistakes and they mess up, but pure silence does say a lot.

It’s been over one hundred days. One hundred days where I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he’s no longer here on earth. I miss his smile, his laugh, and the way he made fun of me whenever I got tipsy. The memories still keep popping into my head, though most were from ten or twenty years ago. I post old pictures and am still hoping that somewhere in one of our houses, there is a picture of all of us together, at least one. I still feel a little guilty over moving forward with my life, especially since there are a ton of people who are still living with the pain as if it just happened yesterday. I know he would want me to live my life to the fullest, to love people around me with everything I have, and to not spend my days in darkness. I think about things that I’ve been too scared to mention out loud: weddings, babies, and a plethora of occasions that will never be exactly right without him. I continuously find small ways to honor him, whether it’s occasionally drinking his favorite beer or leaving his name on the wall at Wrigley Field after the Cubs won the World Series. I’ve never been into hunting or fishing, but those things now remind me of him. Country music is more meaningful than it ever has been, especially Eric Church and a variety of songs that now make me happy and sad at the same time. This is all neither good nor bad, but it’s reality. It’s the new normal that we all have to live with.

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It is said that pain changes with time, although I’m fully aware that it will never go away completely. I don’t know how I’ll feel a year from now, or what I’ll have learned from it in the next three or five. I understand that grief is the price we pay for loving people, but a broken heart is also an indication of a life well lived. I’m blessed, fortunate, and honored to have known such a kind soul, and I thank God for all of it.

Life is really is precious. He left a mark on the world, and I hope somehow he knows that.

I miss him. Now and always.

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How Do You…?

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One of my friends since childhood recently passed away, an accident that neither I nor many others saw coming. We grew up together, and his family has become like family to me (and they’re part of the reason why I know and love God like I do today). After attending the funeral I realized that I am a much better writer than a talker, and it has helped tremendously as I celebrate and give thanks for his life. But like all of us that love him, I’m still grappling with questions, trying to find a way to continue on (as he would want me to) while still grieving.

How Do You?

 

The night before

Celebrating, laughing, and dancing

City lights surrounding

Unaware of

The news to come

 

Then come morning

The phone ringing

Knees shaking and eyes blurring

Questions racing

“What do you mean?”

“How can this be?”

Heading in my hands

Anguish

Jesus, where are you?!

 

How do you process what feels like a bad dream

A reality that doesn’t seem true or make any sense at all

How do you pray when you feel like screaming?

And cursing the circumstances

 

A day of mourning

Black and blurry

Many people, many tears

Overwhelmed by the weight of reality

How do you say goodbye

When all you can do is cry

Out to the creator of all things

Holding each other up, sometimes literally

And sometimes in prayer

Words are few

But thoughts are plenty

 

Laid to rest

The person passed

Yet the storm still rages on

How do you move forward without guilt?

As though you’re leaving a brother, son, and friend behind

You don’t want to ignore what happened

But you can’t stay in the dark either

 

So the question becomes

How do we live a life of meaning?

When imperfections blaze like wildfire

How do we love deeper?

To honor who we lost

When our human-ness gets the best of us

Not numbing

But not getting caught up in the bullshit either

 

These feelings

This process

Like fire and rain

They come in waves

Something sparks a memory

And memories spark emotion

You don’t forget

Because you can’t

 

And though heaven is without tears

We’re still wondering down here

What to do, who to be

What “normal” is anymore

More questions than answers

But reassurance

A reunion will be on the other side

Life Lately: When You’re Disappointed (and Maybe Even a Little Heartbroken)


Do I focus on the positive or the negative? The side embellished in sunshine and pretty colors, or the raw, deep and sometimes tear inducing stuff?

 That’s a question that I’m sure all writers and bloggers alike ask themselves at some point or another. That’s part of the reason why I haven’t been posting for most of February, as this month has come at me in a way that I was not expecting, nor was I prepared for.

My birthday was overshadowed by the passing of my sweet Yellow Lab two days early; she’d wandered off and was hit by a car, and there was nothing more that could be done. Despite that she was closest to my brother out of everyone in my family, but the loss was still devastating. Knowing that she was pretty far up in her years, I knew that time was going to come sooner rather than later, but I believed that at the very least I would be able to say goodbye. However, this was not the case, and as it usually goes with any kind of upsetting or heartbreaking news, I found my mind going numb. All I wanted to do was curl up under the covers and cry.



And like most losses do, this caused me to start thinking about my choices and making the most of the time in front of me. That’s why when one of my best friends invited me on a road trip to Nashville, I took her up on it. Granted it took some deliberating, but I ultimately made the decision because I wanted to do something different, and it’s been on my list of cities to visit (along with San Diego and San Antonio). I’m in a place where I want to explore and try new things, and am now slowly building the means to do it. Unfortunately this trip was abruptly cancelled; and while I understand the reasoning behind it, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t disappointed. It taught me that circumstances don’t always result because they’re supposed to; sometimes it’s a result of poor planning or not thinking, and sometimes stuff just happens that no one has any control over. 

Life has been going at a pretty steady pace; I’m finally getting into a routine with work, exercise, and relaxation. But yet at times, I still get the sense that something is missing, whether it be excitement or being in community with others for more than one day a week. Though it has been a little over six months since I moved back, it’s still very easy to get lonely out here. In the last week or so, I’ve realized that it’s not business that keeps me going, but the intentional effort to feed my soul. In order to center myself spiritually, I’m making a point to start and end my day with God. Saturdays and Sundays will now be dedicated to creative writing and/or journaling, unless I’m in a place where I don’t have access to my computer or a notebook. And though getting around is a bit of a challenge, I want to get involved in at least one or two meet-up groups or organizations.

But the one thing I miss most right now is the deep conversation, especially now that I’m more confident in who I am as a person, It’s not so much for the lack of friends as it is less opportunities than there used to be. Granted there are plenty of phone calls and text messages, but it isn’t quite the same as sitting face to face and observing their expression and emotion. I miss the no-holds-barred, no sugarcoating type of talks, and that’s a big part of why I often send people unedited versions of my writing; maybe we don’t always get to spend time together or catch up like we did in college, but at least they’ll know what’s on my heart. 

When all is said and done, I do feel like I’m out of my element, and not having access to what makes me feel alive all the time is still taking some getting used to. 

However, I’m grateful that places like that are only a bus ride or a train ride away, one which I’ll be embarking on in a couple of hours. One extreme positive about post-grad life is that you really have to plan ahead if you want to make things happen, which I’ve always been a planner and have been for practically my whole life. And though various things haven’t worked out like I thought they would, it has been all right in the long run. There’s still a lot happening right in front of me, and there are plenty more adventures yet to come.

Through The Rain

I knew that he was gone when I saw faded glimpses of lightening flash behind us, followed by the low roar of thunder. It started to drizzle slightly, upon becoming a torrential downpour as the four of us made our way out of the concert arena and into the impossibly crowded parking lot. At one point the rain was coming down so hard that I had to shut my eyes in order to ease the sting of sweat, make-up, and water that were now seeping from my eyelids. I clung desperately to my mother with both hands, praying that I wouldn’t slip or get knocked over or lose my glasses. Don’t let go! Just get to the car….


In a way, that is how life has been for me,  particularly in the weeks and months after my friend’s passing occurred. My lack of experience with loss was almost like walking in complete darkness. The inability to mourn and grieve freely caused both my mind and body to go into autopilot; after my family had gone to sleep, I would sit in my pitch black room and cry as quietly as I possible, or read the stories that were posted on his memory page until my head ached from staring at the computer for two hours straight. This went on for a week and a half until I got back to campus, the day of the funeral service.

I believed that once I could get away from my hometown, I would feel better. And in a way, I did; I had more people to talk to about it, but I can’t remember how much we actually talked about it at first. And while it wasn’t often because of busy work and summer class schedules, down the line I kind of started to hate rehashing the same thing over and over again. I wanted to move on, and yet the mere idea of it felt like betrayal.

Self-medication became the norm; when I wasn’t with my friends, I tended to go out on the town alone, sometimes multiple nights in a row. It wasn’t so much about the drinking as it was just being around others, even if a lot of them were strangers. I did meet quite a few of them, but rarely anything went beyond the dance floor, save one guy who got my number, texted me an hour later, and hasn’t contacted me since then. It was the darker side of Cinderella, except I went to bars instead of a ball and walked out with an empty heart rather than a missing shoe.

But the levee gave way soon enough; during the first two weeks of August, I could barely function without something triggering a tear-fest. There were periods of time where I would just sit on my couch and cry, not knowing the reasons why or how to stop. In a way, they were the tears that I should have cried at home or even at the funeral.  At the urging of my grandparents, I finally made a motion to talk to one of the group leaders of Intervarsity; up until then I had gone out of my way to not talk to pastors or anyone involved in the organizations that I had been part of, at least regarding everything that was going on. I was terrified that I would just be met with a bunch of cliches about how my friend was in a better place, and that if I just kept praying, went to church, read Bible verses, etc. all the pain would go away. I didn’t want any numbing cream with a Jesus-approved sticker, and I didn’t want to risk the rejection. Unfortunately, I had gotten to where I couldn’t keep silent without it eating me from the inside out.

It was a long and exhausting conversation; it didn’t automatically make everything better, but it was the start of setting myself free from this emotional prison that I had kept myself locked in for weeks. Spiritually, I was practically bone-dry. I didn’t know what to pray about exactly, but I did read the Bible and write when I felt the need to. On a very random morning,  I came across a verse that has practically spelled out where I was at: when my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path (Psalm 142: 33).

It has been almost four months since, and I am not going to deny that I am a changed person because of it. I have a love hate/relationship with alcohol and I occasionally get angry when others seem to put getting drunk before their own safety or that of others. However, I do try to make the most of the time that I have with friends, and I feel like I’m getting better at figuring out what matters and what doesn’t.  Looking back, I now have a deeper understand of why I felt and reacted the way that I did:

The very idea of knowing I could lose a loved one in just a span of a few hours (or moments) was absolutely terrifying. After the news was confirmed, I reached out to multiple friends as a way to keep myself calm; I didn’t care that it was two in the morning or that each text was somewhat long and sappy, I needed to feel connected somebody. In the days that followed, I wrestled with whether or not I just have waited to absorb it before telling anyone else, particularly those from college.  While I don’t regret telling that I care for them, I am sorry that they might have been uncomfortable about it. Nothing done with the intention of showing or giving love should not be felt in shame.

The root of my pain wasn’t solely in the tragedy, but also in the disconnection from my friends and family afterward. I understood that there are appropriate places and settings to grieve, yet I felt like I couldn’t even do that in my own home. I spent so much time and energy putting the needs and feelings of others above my own, and I paid for it later on. As I mentioned in an early post, I feared being called selfish or undeserving.Back then, I would have rather been alone than to risk being looked down on, even though both make me miserable.

And I know everyone deals with this kind of stuff differently;  More specifically, “being strong” may work for my parents or my siblings, but it doesn’t for me, at least when something had happens. I can’t pinpoint the reason though, considering they all seem very reserved in that regard. Comparing pain levels (i.e. someone always has it worse then you) does not make it diminish or disappear.  While that may be true to an extent, everybody is hurting in some way. There are other phrases to use in order to put it all in perspective without denying another person’s (or your own) pain. 

There is such a thing as feeling before you can feel better.  For those on the other side of the fence,  It may be personal nature to go into problem-solving mode, but that’s not what the grieving person needs. They need to be held. They need to be loved on. They need to be given the space to just let it out. When you don’t know what to say, those are the times when actions will do more than words ever will.

It doesn’t take much for me to care about a person. I don’t have to see or talk to them all the time in order to learn to love them. Being observant as I am, I can learn to do so in one night. Hence, it is possible to make a list of things that made my friend so special, despite our lack of conversation and interaction. Along with that, it is possible for one act of kindness to impact my perspective on someone. Not just in our friendship, but for other friendships as well. 

When I reflect on that rainy night, I was literally holding onto my mom; looking at this from a spiritual standpoint, it all seems like a metaphor for what I’ve been through and how I’ve grown since then. Realistically, I haven’t been holding onto my parents, or anyone else for that matter. In the times where I can’t see, where I’m blinded by whatever is going on in my life, there’s only One that I can hold onto.  

Then again, maybe I’m not holding onto Him; rather, He’s holding onto me. 

    photo credit: ViaMoi via photopin cc

    A Reflection on Loss


    I’m not sure where to begin; I go back and forth from being heartbroken, to scared, to confused, to guilty, to angry, and then wishing I could just flip a switch in order not to feel anything for a while. I was on my way to see Luke Bryan and Florida-Georgia Line when I first found out over Facebook; not wanting to get emotional before the concert, I shut my phone off and just focused on what was going on around me, yet I knew in my heart that whatever I would find out after that was not going to be good. The four hours in between before and after were incredible, but I’ll get to that shortly. 

    It was confirmed on the drive home, and I stayed awake until four o’clock in the morning crying, listening to music, pacing, and reaching out to other people. In those moments, it was like I was floating in some kind of time warped space, transitioning to what I thought was a dream to the heart-wrenching reality. I admit that I do not deal with death very well, mostly because I’m not sure how to deal with it “appropriately”, if there is such a thing. I’ve never lost a friend in this way before, but I realize that I’m not the only one. He and I were not the best of friends, but we were friends nonetheless. He called me “pal” and treated me like he would treat anyone else: with love, respect, and a damn good sense of humor. The best part about him was that he was completely comfortable with who he was and had no trouble owning it. This summary does not do the memories justice, but I’m experiencing so many thoughts and feelings that it’s hard to articulate them.

    I didn’t want to break down right then and there, so I threw myself into the music and the experience.  I don’t know if my friend was a fan of Luke Bryan or not, but he did love Country music. When Luke started to sing “Country Girl (Shake it for me)” I immediately just let go and danced like a crazy person. At one point, I got up on a chair and didn’t give a crap that I was standing in front of another person (I’m petite, so I felt like I had a legitimate excuse, aside from having a little too much to drink). And then when the rain began to fall and soak most of us in the process, I thought “this is what truly living is, isn’t it? Doing what you love, with the people you love, regardless of the circumstances. From what I know and have heard from others, that’s exactly what he did.

    I can only hope that he would have been either smiling or laughing at me in this situation. 

    And is in these moments that I wish there was a manual for grief. My heart feels torn between wanting to cry ridiculously ugly, gut busing tears at the unfairness of it all and trying to be strong for those that might have known him better than I did. . I don’t know what’s wrong, and I don’t know what’s right. I wish I could do it freely, rather than staying up all night for multiple days on end because my brain won’t quiet down. 

    But this is not about comparisons or what is justified versus what’s not. This is about coming together and celebrating an amazing person, whether you were close to him or not. That’s the beauty of of going to a small, private Catholic high school: if you don’t personally know someone, you know of them. Sooner or later, you want to know them.

    This may be the first time that I’ve experienced a passing of someone I care for, but this is not the case for my high school community. About five years ago, a similar accident took place. In the midst of trying to come together, I remember somebody had written on a chalkboard in one of my classes: “Remember guys, we’re a family.” 

    There is so much more I want to write about, enough where I think that I’ll split this into multiple posts. What I have written here is only a small fraction of the words and emotions that I’ve scribbled down in my private journal. As I’ve said many times before, writing is my therapy, and I don’t expect this to be the best thing that I have ever written.we’re all hurting and angry and shell-shocked in some way. Each one of us has different ways of coping, and I’m just not sure what mine are yet. 

    God Bless

    In The Cracks

    Over spring break, a girl from my hometown passed away. She was the fifth person I knew of from the area that has died young in the last year and a half. Shortly after getting back to school, I learned that one of my former Girl Scout Troop leaders, as well as the mom of an old friend, had lost her battle with cancer. My TA for one of my classes then informed us that she had been diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer and that we wouldn’t be having a final exam. Nearly a week and a half later, the bombings in Boston happened. 

    It has been a lot to take in, and I’ve started to wonder, how do we really go about not taking anything for granted in life? Is it possible to truly live and make the most of the moments that we have without ignoring personal pain? On one side, there’s the acronym made famous by a popular rapper. On the other, there’s the notion of having an “eternal mindset.” Instead of trying to explain it all, I’ll just let the poem do the talking. 

    In The Cracks

    Bombs flying
    Buildings collapsing
    She says she’s got cancer and the other is one breath away
    From the other side
    It seems like the world has been brought to its knees once again
    And as much as I don’t want to ask what the hell or why
    Together it doesn’t make sense
    The short span of time
    And so I’ve realized that real life
    Is not just short, but precious
    Like grains of sand coursing through my fingers
    The question then becomes
    How do you hold on when something moves so fast?
    Which side do you choose when you’re standing in the cracks?
    The side where the rocks are always moving
    And you’re slipping and sliding
    Living for the thrill of the unexpected adventure
    Maybe not always doing everything right
    But trusting God to guide you
    Then there’s the smoothest path
    The one without any roots to get stuck in
    You never get scraped, or bruised, or burned
    You just simply watch from the cracks
    I don’t want to live by a silly acronym
    Or wait till Jesus comes back
    Is it possible to live for the moment, to not have any regrets?
    At least without betraying beliefs
    I’m not sure and I probably won’t ever be
    And that’s OK

    It’s silly to wait another five decades to live like I have nothing to lose
    And spend time caring about what other people think
    Love, forgive, and accept Grace
    Inhibitions will not keep me at bay
    Others opinions will not change my mind
    If I’m that determined to accomplish a goal or get something done
    I’m not going to stop until all the doors have been closed
    Maybe we’re not always supposed to know what to do
    Or how to do it
    Maybe the most beautiful things can only be seen
    When we end up in the cracks 

    A Sobering Truth

    I can’t remember where I was exactly when I heard the horrific news about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. At first, I didn’t believe it, because it happened in a crowded movie theatre as opposed to a high school or a college campus. The gravity of it all didn’t register until  a few nights ago, when I learned that there had been not one, but multiple people from my hometown that were either injured or lost their lives. I didn’t sleep for most of that night, and cried on and off the following day.


    This is not the first time that something like this affected me in such a way. But it’s not so much that I simply feel heartbroken this time around. Rather, I feel haunted. 

    I was having a conversation with a woman after church on Sunday, and we were discussing just how unbelievable it was, and still is. She said something that I have not been able to get out of my head since: that nothing is ever completely safe, at least not anymore. 

    Things like this are no longer just a reminder of the fragility of life. They’re no longer a reminder just how deep and dark hatred can be. For many, a sense of innocence and normalcy has been lost.  


    I have found myself asking, “why?” Not exactly why this happened, for that there may never be a definite answer. The question that screams for address is “where do we go from here?” It is an issue so much deeper than gun control and comparing them with other murderous attacks. From this point on, how do we balance our lives not being completely skittish, while also realizing that we’re not invincible?


    I can’t say that I won’t not have a twinge of fear every time I go to see a movie. I’m not one that likes to sit in the back rows as it is, simply because it’s hard to walk down the stairs, especially if there is a crowd. I will probably hold my breath for a little while, and be prepared to run if need be. 


    But I refuse to live in complete fear; I refuse to allow a heartless act of pure evil to keep me from experiencing joy and beauty. 


    And if there’s one thing we should learn, it’s to be aware. Not to be afraid necessarily, but aware. We’re not invincible and we’re certainly not promised tomorrow. All we can do is squeeze every moment out of life and savor it in the best way we know how. Yet, I do understand that it will take time and faith to be able to do so. 


    Right now, my prayer is that  there may be light in the midst of darkness. That journalists, politicians, religious figures, and the like keep their biased opinions to themselves and allow those affected to mourn and heal. And that we may become one step closer to keeping these senseless acts from ever happening again. 


    Amen.

    Fragility

    It blows my mind how fragile life truly is, especially with the recents deaths of Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, all within a week and a half. Death is somewhat of a strange subject for me; I have never really experienced complete sadness when a relative has passed on (reasons being that I was not particularly close with any of them, nor did I know them very well), but I get so shaken up when I hear about others. This happens especially if it relates to an illness or if that person seems considerably young at the time they go.

    My initial reaction was along the lines of “what?! Are you kidding me?? wow..” It was more the timing, because both Farrah and MJ were more relatable to my parents generation/era then to mine. Farrah was the woman with the insanely curly hair that my mom often sported when she was my age. Michael had good music, (I DO remember dancing to Billie Jean and Thriller at various dances that I went to) but he seemed to have a weird personality and I felt sorry for him. And Billy Mays was the Oxy-Clean guy who’s commercials eventually got annoying because they were shown so much on TV.
    Yet, it has taught me a lesson; simple, but one that I often have to re-learn over and over again:


    Life is short. You can only take it so seriously, but neither should you take it lightly.

    This is the reason why I tell my family members and friends that I care for them whenever I get the chance. It is why from this point on I am trying to look at the bright side of things more often and not worry or stress about what is ultimately out of my control.

    I definately have more to say on all these subjects, but will leave those for future entries.