The exquisite pain of Boston and Sandy Hook
The exquisite pain of Boston and Sandy Hook
I needed to get away from the news yesterday. There were some potentially ugly clouds around here, but they looked like they were all talk so I went for a run. Just as I was rounding the last bend on a loop through a pretty, foresty sorta place I like to go, it started to rain.
And then I remembered another time that it had started raining on a sunny day when I was running in that exact same spot: Right after Sandy Hook.
That seemed appropriate because this picture had been haunting me all morning:
This is Martin Richard, the 8-year old boy who died at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
It doesn’t matter if it’s one kid in Boston or if it’s 26 kids in Connecticut. To lose a child has to be about the most awful thing I can imagine.
When I was running in that same spot after Sandy Hook, I was just pounding my feet and noticing all the beauty of nature around me and thinking so fucking what? Then I found myself sort of shout-thinking at the Universal Powers That Be the way that I do when I’m so frustrated that I can’t cope. “Why, why, why? God, why? You KNOW me. You know that I’m ridiculous enough to always look for a lesson in every single thing that happens. You know that I want to see the beauty in everything. You know that I look for it. I’m trying here. I’m trying so hard. But there’s no way that I can see one speck of beauty in what just happened. There’s no way that I can see any beauty in the pain that those parents are going through right now. NONE! Am I missing something? Am I? Help me see it because this doesn’t make any sense.”
That’s when the sky opened up and it started to rain while the sun was shining in the middle of December. And then it hit me — the one speck of beauty to be found in all the hurt.
To feel such exquisite pain, it means that you had to have loved with complete abandon.
We so often hedge our bets with love. We scope it out first. We circle it. We try to assess the potential for risk before we dive in. We dole it out or reel it in based on complicated and ever-changing equations.
But it’s not like that with our children. The day you smack the word “parent” on yourself, you rip your heart wide open and make yourself completely vulnerable. You know that your child will puke in your hair and keep you awake night after night and sometimes call you horrible names and mouth off and break some of your most precious stuff … you know all that going in.
You wouldn’t accept that kind of behavior from anyone else but you made a deal with these little people. “No matter what you do to me, I will always love you. No matter how you frustrate me, hurt my feelings, confuse me , or wound me so deeply that I want to cry, I will just keep throwing love at you. Even when I don’t like you that much, I will keep throwing love at you. Even when I’m tired and at the end of my rope and I just wish you would go away for 10 minutes, I will keep throwing love at you. Forever and ever and ever.”
I suspect that even Adam Lanza’s mother felt that way about him. I don’t know much about her, but my guess is that she loved that kid with total abandon — and that even in her last moments, she was loving him through her fear and spent her last moments desperately trying to understand.
It’s hard to think about Martin Richard’s mother, who probably woke up in the hospital after her emergency brain surgery to find that one child had been killed and another one had lost part of a leg.
There’s no neat way to tie up a tragedy. Everyone who died in Boston and at Sandy Hook was someone’s child. Those parents are hurting in places I haven’t accessed in myself yet. I’ve grieved for loved ones but I haven’t grieved like they are.
I know — we all know — that the people we love are never going to be permanent in our lives. We come in alone, we go out alone, in some sort of cosmic magic that hasn’t quite yet been explained in its entirety. I’d like to think there was a bigger plan to all of this that I’m not in on. For now, I’m trying to be aware of how the lessons relate to my life. I’m looking at my kids and seeing the magic in them. I’m giving thanks for lunches to pack and laundry to do and fights to break up. All of that means that my little people are here in my life in a very real way. I don’t have to miss them and that makes me so, so lucky.
I’m shooting up a flare to the Universe in my own little way … wishing peace and comfort and healing to all those affected by the bombings in Boston.
Sure hope I don’t have to write any more blogs like this any time soon.
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