With the sentencing for one of the parties involved in the murder of a dear friend of my mom's happening this Friday, I thought this would be an appropriate blog post for today.
I've touched on this before in previous entries, but this has been a really rough few years for me and for my family. In fact, it has been 5 years since I've gotten through a year without losing someone that I love.
2009 - My dog of 16 years, Sable died rather suddenly.
2010 - My aunt Sherry died of breast cancer.
2011 - Theron Brison was murdered.
2012 - My dog Maxwell had to be put to sleep due to a brain tumor.
2013 - My Grandy passed away pancreatic cancer.
Yes, dogs are people, too. For anyone else who has experienced the loss of a beloved pet, the loss hurts, and it definitely counts.
Anyway, recently, my mom was told that [after certain events] she can now get back to normal.
But, this left me thinking-- after we experience severe loss, after we experience traumatic loss, are we ever truly 'normal' again? When I think of who I was 6 years ago, I know that I am a drastically different person now than I was then. Of course, some of this is definitely due to the fact that as human beings our sense of self is constantly in flux. (at least, for most of us it is). But, I think that the difference also has something to do with the fact that I have experienced trauma by losing animals and people that are very important to me.
Is my laugh a little duller? Is it a little shorter? Does it come less frequently? I can't be sure, but I do know that these people (for this purpose dogs are people, too) took a piece of my heart with them to their final resting places, wherever they may be.
And so, I will not ever be that self again-- I don't think I will never be 'normal.' I can never be that carefree girl again who hasn't experienced severe and traumatic loss.
Particularly, I think, violence changes you when you are touched in some aspect by it. You go from thinking the world is a relatively safe place where violence happens on the periphery to people you don't know or the friend of a friend's brother or something like that. As long as it doesn't directly touch our lives, whether we recognize it or not, we have some sort of a sense of safety.
It isn't until violence comes to you, until it visits your home and intrudes upon where you live that you realize that this safety is false. It isn't until this happens that you even realize you have by and large had the belief that you and your loved ones are safe. You become a little more scared, a little more worried, you look over your shoulder a little more, you triple check your locks, and you realize in a panic that the locks you do have probably wouldn't stop someone from getting in, and make a mental note to google alarm systems for apartments or different types of locks.
Do you ever come back from that? Do people ever become 'normal' again after that? I tend to think that for most people answer is no.
And this is hard for people to understand. Grief that is not your own is often hard for people to understand.
When my aunt was sick, I had a teammate on my women's soccer team who emailed me and basically said something along the lines of 'I'm tired of reading your emo and suicidal Facebook posts, your life is not that bad.' First of all, I've never made a suicidal Facebook post in my life, but that's actually beside the point.
The point is this: who was this woman to say that to me? To look into my life from the periphery (we had only seen each other occasionally outside of the soccer field) and tell me how it is? The answer? No one.
No one has the right to look into my life, to look into my grief and tell me I don't have the right to be feeling it--that I should get over it, that I should return to normal.
Would this woman have welcomed the same sentiment from me if it were her niece dying at 46 of metastasized breast cancer that had fought its way into her brain? Probably not. And more than that, I wouldn't have ever said it.
After concluding that this woman in her 40s had either dealt with a lot of death or very little death, I wrote back some of the same sentiments, as cordially as I could manage, and then I (of course) deleted her from Facebook. Nowadays, we have the power to do that--to delete those that hurt us or offend us from our worlds with the click of the button. Or, a lot of times we have that power, at least.
But, there are people in our real lives that we cannot delete with a mute button or by 'unfriending,' and we have to deal with their perverted sense of our own reality of which they usually know very little. They don't recognize that no one wants to hear platitudes of 'she's in a better place,' or 'you can get back to normal now,' and that is no one's fault--no one's burden--but their own.
We grieve, we cry, we lash out, we scream, we do anything we can to make it through the day with the burden of loss upon us--and some of us are lucky. Some of us DO get back to normal after a few weeks, months, years. But, some of us don't. And a lack of normalcy doesn't mean inferiority-- it means that life's events have created a brokenness inside of us that will likely never be repaired.
Life, death, violence, or some amalgamation of all three have created within us a severe loss of normalcy that we will never recover.
And it is not anyone's job to fix us-- it is not even our own jobs to fix ourselves. We have to sit in silence with our loss, with who these losses have made us day in and day out, and the bottom line is this: You can love us for the way we are now, with the understanding that we will never latch on to 'normal' as a life preserver the way you do--that we will never call 'normal' our home again, or you can let us be.
But you can't talk, hug, or even help us back into normal. And you shouldn't want to.