Friday, December 14, 2012

When Bad Things Happen

I decided not to look at the news today after the news of the shooting in Connecticut hit. I fall apart when I read about bad things happening to children, and have to avoid that kind of news to preserve my sanity and to function best for my own family.

About a year ago, a young man who I knew only very peripherally through special needs circles was ill, and having multiple surgeries. The details are not important, but I tried to be as helpful as I was able until I realized that my suggestions were being ignored-either because they were not actually helpful, or because the person I was directing my advice to either couldn't or wouldn't respond-for whatever reason.

At that point, me and another mother who was also peripherally involved, had a conversation and I said that this situation may not end well. That young man, I said, may die. But then, I told my friend-as cold as this sounds-it's not "our" sad.

I've had my own sad. Not just me-but my family.

We've been the family that the news stories were written about.

We've been the people who get the calls at those twilight hours when you know it's not a happy call.

I've been the mother in the hospital, collapsing to the floor, thinking my baby was dying-thank G-d he did not. I've been the mother who felt the Angel of Death chill my house as he had a seizure.

I've been the mother who was angry, who downright wrestled with G-d after, walking about in a trance, trying to function, trying to make sense out of the nonsensical.

But right now, it's not "my" sad and I find that as I get older, I have to exercise even more restraint and control to try and balance the lines of empathy, of human sympathy and not internalizing the devastating things that happen to others. I'm getting better at it.

Bad things happen all the time. Sometimes they happen to you. Sometimes they happen to the people you love. And sometimes, they happen to people in other places, even other countries, but you still feel the anguish and the human pain behind the stories.

Every day that goes by that is not marred by something truly terrible in your life, by loss or illness or bereavement-each of those quiet days have to be celebrated and we have to be thankful for the boring, mundane, every day healthy days.

Bad stuff happens. Bad people will always be out there doing terrible things. We have to be grateful for every moment not in pain, not experienced in sorrow.

So if you are sad about these shootings-as any civilized person would be, that is natural and understandable. But if it's not your personal sadness, then you have to double up your efforts to focus on your immediate circle, your family and your friends and that is the way that you put goodness into the world.

Be grateful for this day.