Tragedy is everywhere. Often it's nameless and faceless allowing you to look the other way and pretend it didn't happen. But, then there are the other times when it corners you. And there's nothing you can do but face it and look it directly in the eye. Feeling the sting, the loss and the hopelessness.
A couple of days ago my sons' high school sent an e-mail informing all the parents that a student was killed as a result of domestic violence. The name of the student was withheld for privacy. The truth is, I didn't want to know the details, especially of someone I was sure I wouldn't know. And that my kids probably wouldn't either. When my boys came home from school I asked about their day, just like I do every other day. Then I mentioned the e-mail and they acknowledged losing a classmate and that counselors were available at the school. I'd handled it in the most avoidant way possible and now it was done.
Except of course it wasn't.
Tragedy is never done.
It produces ripples that alter everything that follows it.
It was after frisbee practice, the normal chaos of getting dinner on the table and my husband coming home late from work that the story began to unravel. When my son casually mentioned the name of the victim. Someone from his grade. Someone he's known since elementary school. And I pictured her the way I last saw her, as a 3rd grader meeting her mom, who I'd made small talk with on a couple of occasions, on the play ground when school dismissed. Why didn't my boys tell me they knew her? Why didn't I ask? And for the love of god, why didn't I feel the loss until it became personal?
What kind of heartless degenerate have I become?
Even though my kids weren't friends of the victim, I came to realize as my kids were talking that all four of them knew friends and family of hers. Then they spoke of the rumors that were circulating through school about her death, the way things do when people naturally attempt to patchwork piece a story together. To dispel those, thinking that the facts would somehow be kinder, gentler truths, we turned to the news for answers. Immediately realizing our mistake. Reality is always harsher and more cruel. It didn't provide any answers. Only more questions.
Mostly, where do we go from here?
Though the details of each tragedy are unique, the question that looms is the same. Though nothing else is. Forcing us to start over with a new reality. Where the unfathomable is now within the realm of possibility. Increasing the seemingly insurmountable challenge for us to find some beauty and hope in a world that seems so hopeless. And to consciously choose to be a part of it. However small. Every day.