The tragic events that happened in Orlando over the past week — all three of them horrific and unimaginable in their own ways — have left me breathless. Since I’m not the type of person who consumes information to cope (preferring instead to live in an ignorant fog of denial) I’ve been scrolling my newsfeed with warp speed as the articles and photos that started inundating it last Saturday morning keep multiplying as the tragedies continue.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m scared to look.
And to think a week ago I thought all the political mudslinging was scary.
As a mother, the three events in Orlando are even more disturbing — if that’s even possible. When I allow myself to venture a tiny way down the dark path of each case (which I can’t even bring myself to label and distinguish with keystrokes) and think about them from a mother’s point of view, I get sick.
And I don’t know how to process it.
I’m not sure any of us do.
Sure, some of us pray.
Some of us drink.
Some of us try to distract ourselves with a Fixer Upper Marathon.
Some of us medicate at bedtime so we can fall asleep.
Some of us *cough* do all of the above.
But regardless of the method, do any of us know how to fully cope with the horrors of what this life can deal us? This big, beautiful, wonderful life that lately has seemed so cruel and terrifying? So unfair and unforgiving?
I’m at a loss.
I can look away from the news articles that give the details (too many details) but I can’t hide from the pain.
The pain of a mother who feels both agony and relief.
Agony for what I cannot imagine, and relief for the very same reason.
Which incites the guilt. (Because I’m a mother, naturally.)
And I’m not sure I’m supposed to hide from the pain.
I’m actually not sure what the hell I’m supposed to do.
Am I supposed to send money to the GoFundMe accounts, attend a vigil, or update my profile picture to show the rest of social media that I’m standing with love? And if I don’t — if I choose to struggle with my feelings of grief in private and in my own way — am I considered impassive or unfeeling? Am I apathetic if the best way I know how to cope is by trying my best to put the events out of my mind? If I don’t stop and look at the photos of the victims — from all the horrible incidents — does it mean I’m cold-hearted, or does it simply mean the sight of those faces is just too much for me to process?
Unimaginable fear, horror, anguish, shock, heartache.
How do you handle it?
Whatever your coping mechanism is when things happen that you have no definition for — no way to grasp or to understand and that leave you breathless — I think it’s important to add this one to the mix: gratefulness.
Grateful that these horrible things didn’t happen to you?
Well, if we’re being totally honest — and can admit it behind the safety of our screens — then yes. Of course.
But that’s not what I mean.
I mean grateful for this day.
Grateful for any number of things you have in your life that are good … or even not so good.
Grateful for the wonderful things, obviously, but just as grateful for the regular, the mundane, even the inconveniences and the frustrations that suddenly aren’t so inconvenient or frustrating.
It may not abate the grief and stop the fear, but if you concentrate on it hard enough, it can be a distraction.
And I know, I know — it’s (more than) a bit clichéd.
I’ll take the risk.
The risk of being trite, of being unoriginal.
Because, you guys, it’s all I’ve got.
And I don’t know about you, but right now I’m holding onto it for dear life.
This post — and this day — sponsored by YMFT’s Friday Favorites