It's a balmy 75 degrees on my deck this morning. The birds are singing and the air is calm.
I'm sifting through emails instead of rubble. Nursing a torn calf muscle instead of lying in a hospital bed.
I could be lying under piles of debris, wondering if I might die there before being rescued. If the beams over my head are framing my last church service.
Tragedy strikes most lives at one point or another. I'm not sure anymore if it matters when. I used to think childhood trauma was the worst thing that could happen to a person, because it taints your entire life from that point on.
Maybe that's true, but at least you have your dissociation to keep you company :)
Compartmentalization might just be the handiest tool in a child's tool box, and luckily it comes built in.
Having parented four children who are now nearly all grown men and women, I still fear for their lives daily. The simple thought of their imagined loss puts me in a state of panic. Real loss might be unrecoverable for me.
That's a parent's love. It comes built in too.
I guess you never know until you're there, in that situation, but watching the news is hard for me. It always has been. I feel others' pain acutely, as if it were my own. I slip into their shoes and I stumble through my day, realizing how precious life is, how important relationships are.
Sure, no one wants to live like Chicken Little. If we focus on everything that could go wrong it will paralyze us. We won't be able to live for today, go on that hike to the top of the falls, take that exciting job opportunity overseas, or whatever else might lead us along the path toward our destiny.
But make no mistake. At the end of the day, it's the people in your life who make it worth living.
Those people might be family by blood, or they might be family that comes into your heart because you live together, work together, hang out together, or survive a tragedy together.
Those fifteen children stuffed into the bathroom of a day care center in Oklahoma singing "You Are My Sunshine" will never be the same. And those teachers who sheltered them and saved their lives during the storm will be forever connected to them - to their families. Heros always are.
We tend to think of our fellow humans as a relatively selfish, pompous, hedonistic lot, but given the chance, people step out every day to help one another, to do the right thing, and to become everyday heros.
To help when help is needed most.
To comfort when hope is lost.
To love when love is all that's left.
The movie "Into the Wild" was also a tough one for me to watch, but I absolutely loved Christopher McCandless' spirit - his willingness to sell everything and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Turns out that became his last great adventure, but that's kind of how great adventures go. You just never know.
In the end he learned something that has taught us all an incredible lesson, and his last written words will forever ring true -
"Happiness only real when shared."
Lynda Meyers is an author and blogger who sometimes gets incapacitated by the grief of others. I guess that's not such a bad thing. At least that compartment has a working door...