My husband and I were coming home from grocery shopping tonight, just a few days from Christmas. Almost home, we saw a Lifeflight helicopter, ambulances, sheriff’s deputy cars, and a whole lot of tow trucks in a nearby shopping center. Our turnoff, a road that’s become a busy road during commuting time, was blocked off by emergency and law enforcement vehicles.
Tragedy is never convenient, never something one can pencil in their calendar, or delay. Tonight some loved ones will get bad news.
People always say “That’s horrible. Right at this time of year”, because the Holidays are supposed to be happy and stress-free. You’re not supposed to be sitting in a critical care or emergency waiting room, not knowing whether your loved one will survive. As if a tragedy will give us the month off, which it never does.
I’m afraid every time my sons are out late because I’ve sat in waiting rooms, or been the family member to break tragic news to the rest of our loved ones. The Holidays make me especially afraid because of the drunks, the stoned, the stupid. Just because they’re my children, tragedy isn’t going to give me a free pass.
Having horrible things happen in the Holidays make the ones further down the line those much more painful, sharp anniversaries of loss and devastation. Then there are the anniversaries like Pearl Harbor, which my parents and grandparents honored more, Armistice Day, V-J Day, V-E Day. For us, it’s 9/11.
Ash Wednesday lost its religious significance to me when my sister-in-law and two youngest daughters were murdered by a loved one. Our wedding anniversary is the anniversary of my husband’s mother suddenly dying of a massive heart attack. St. Valentine’s Day means the anniversary my store was robbed. As time goes by, our grieving, our pain lessens bit by bit, dulled by aging memory and sometimes the loss of those who shared the losses with us.
While watching news coverage of the two policemen killed in an ambush in New York City yesterday, I remembered how our family felt when hounded by news crews after the murders in Miami. How depersonalized the loss of a mother, sisters, and nieces became while reporters tried to sneak into the funeral home where we grieved.
So I end this rather dark post with hope that we remember this season to comfort those who are missing loved ones, shelter and aid them, pray for them if you can. In a time of hope, may we treat each other with love and compassion, patience and generosity of spirit. When the anniversaries come, may we help them through their dark days with deeper understanding of their loss.
Thanks for listening, y’all.