The internet has been a place chock full of sadness lately. The kind of sadness that seems so, so freaking wrong, for lack of a better phrase. I am a complete and total stranger to both Shana, who lost her son Thalon and the Spohrs, who lost Maddie; however, their stories are profoundly heartbreaking. Top it off with someone I do know, a tragic story of a man with two young, lovely children, given 3 months to live.
Life can be cold–a series of devastating and horrendous events. The unimaginable and unspeakable seem to happen, over and over. There is so much heartache and pain all around, and it seems so very heavy. I am not a mother. I feel and see the love of my own parents, and I know inside that it is one iota of what they feel for me. I cannot imagine losing a child; however, I am human, and I cannot imagine the pain of losing someone I love and adore. I wish there was something that I could do–that anyone could do to fix these awful things, to keep things like this from never, ever happening again. I cannot and no one can. We can send good wishes, or pray, or donate or love the people in our life that we do know, and who need us.
All I can say is that the events of the past few days and weeks have made me a bit more grateful. Even typing that, I realize that it is an ugly, awful, trite cliche. How many times have we heard this sentiment, to seize the day, to live each day is if it might be our last, to dance like no one’s watching. Events like this can’t help but remind us: today could be your last day. If it can be the last day of a beautiful little girl or an innocent little baby boy, it can sure as hell be your day. It’s cold and sad and morbid, but the truth is that you just never know.
These tragedies are not personal to me, yet I find myself thinking of these poor, grieving families over and over again. And instead of just thinking about the sadness of it, I’m trying to let it change me. When I wake up beside my beloved boyfriend every morning, I want to lay there a little longer and smell his sleepiness and kiss him just a few more times. I spent Easter with my parents and grandparents yesterday, and as I looked around, I realized how lucky I am, how loved I am and how many I have to love. When I look at the adorable little faces of the students I have the privilege of teaching everyday, I try to see how much possibility and joy they contain. Yes, life is frigidly ugly at moments, but it is also blindingly beautiful and alive and full of good things to be seized, if we just engage, enjoy and realize what it is we have.
So, yes: it is small and trite to use the awful moments of others as some sort of ridiculous Chicken Soup Moment, but since it’s all I can do, I hope it’s received as what it is, a genuine, heartfelt tribute to those gone too soon, and an honoring of those of us who are left. Let’s make the best of it.