I woke up dragging my feet this morning.
I’ve since been doing mental gymnastics to assure myself it’s okay to require rest and retreat. The world is an excruciating teacher. But by God, I’ve been paying attention.
There’s a lyric in one of my favorite songs that goes,
We gather stones, never knowing what they’ll mean
Some to throw, some to make a diamond ring
Lately, we’ve been gathering boulders, no? Heavy weights born of grief, disillusionment, anger. My mom, for example, is a specialized security operations professional at a global company. She works within a windowless office where her desk faces a wall-length of TVs featuring news channels and camera feeds. When the news of the Uvalde shooting broke, she was at work. She recently celebrated her 12th year employment anniversary and over that time has witnessed security threats I can’t write about.
But this was different. These were children.
And after Sandy Hook, didn’t we promise never again?
As we caught up this morning, she recounted having to excuse herself from the office to weep as briefly as she could and return to her post, all while the toll of victims kept climbing. A few coworkers noticed and scoffed, “there will just be another one next week.”
I gathered Riyah for her morning walk once I finally got myself in the vertical position. We walked the lake near our place and I slowed down to reflect on the feeling of the sunshine on my face but I could still feel my nerves reminding me how fleeting and delicate it all is. The trauma of this tear is still across us. I haven’t slept well the last two nights and I thought it was strange until I read others experiencing the same thing.
Although I have a compulsive need to remain informed, I’ve put myself on a cautiously tapered drip of the developments surrounding this story. Last night around 10pm, I was scrolling Twitter and paused on a video of Anderson Cooper interviewing a father who realized his child had been killed while helping another little girl that was covered in blood. She told the man assisting her best friend had been shot. And then she said his daughter’s name.
I couldn’t look away – that is, until he said she has a 3-year-old brother who keeps asking for her return.
I was in bed when I was watching this and upon hearing these words, I had to run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up. As I braced my hands on the sink and breathed through waves of nausea, I realized I couldn’t remember my last full meal.
I finally submitted to the emotion and wept on the bathroom floor. I just kept repeating “no” over and over again into my hands. No to this being the status quo, no to dead children in our schools, no to being collectively re-traumatized over and over with these cycles of carnage. No to fearing the movies, the grocery stores, the churches, the concerts.
I’ve since been unable to look back at the news.
I haven’t studied the faces of the victims. In fact, I compulsively turn away because the innocence they bear in their images feels a lot like staring directly at the sun – too searing in the truth about ourselves that I might glance and never again recover.
I share all this to say if you’ve found your spirit, your mind, your body, your emotions, your heart crumbling underneath an absolute rejection of everything it’s costing us to live, you’re not alone.