When I think of tragedy, I think, “how does this relate to me?” I find myself torn between the appropriate social response and the response that is truest to me. This may sound callous or detached but this is coping and its a mask to hide a complexity of feelings surrounding tragedy and grief.
I find myself thinking, “aren’t all lives created equal? Isn’t that what we are taught to believe? And, how much of that do we allow to be true while measurements of worth such as race, gender, creed and class exist and are so willingly used?”
Yes, my mind went through a gamut of feelings and thoughts today of anger, fear, sorrow, empathy and apathy. In the end, I rested on sorrow as I allowed my truths, which are my experiences, to open my heart to the gift that is grieving.
I remembered all the lost lives of my youth. The lives taken by violence in a our defacto segregated community. We didn’t live in one of the safest places in America. Believe me, we wanted to. It just wasn’t feasible at the time and so the families in our community did the best they could to survive the daily flow of children’s lives lost in a bloody war due to a steady flow of drugs and guns in our neighborhoods.
This was a story of many of us from that time and the story is still true for some of us still trapped in the stifling world of violent poverty. The two seem to go hand in hand–violence and poverty. But what happens when violence happens in one of the safest neighborhoods in the U.S.? You get tons of media coverage, that’s what. You get prayers that seem to come from all demographics of society. There is an outcry for change because we know that no human, no child, should go through this. But, the yells seem louder when the victims are more innocent than most.
And that is where the crux of the feelings forms. That is the center of it all and if flows until I crumble. A mass of grief that included the designated invisible that we were. We were ignored until many of us disappeared in a hail of drugs and bullets, innocent and “guilty” alike.
I never heard an outcry to change gun laws. If these debates were being had it was behind tightly closed doors. Maybe, I was just too tied up in finding happiness and joy in such every day darkness to notice if anyone else cared.
By the way, guns were easy to get. You’d be surprised how easily teens and pre-teens got a hold of illegal guns. “Burners, gats, pieces, jammies, etc.” were easy to come by. License not required in the underground street trade.
I’m a mother too. I have a son that I consider myself successful in raising. He’s made it to a ripe old age of 16 without too much incident. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of him not joining the ranks of needlessly murdered youth–youth murdered by the shallow hurts that feel like chasms in the mind of the dankly sad. At this point, I am feeling lucky that I don’t live in a ‘safe’ neighborhood. It seems to me that the festering mind of violence has found a new playground in the ‘safest’ of our neighborhoods. A barrier has been broken. We are no longer alone or untouchable and our grief seems to be the same. Suddenly, we all suffer. Maybe, just as suddenly we can overcome too.
I am 37 now. I took 19 years to grieve my friends. I don’t know if this will end. I am grateful for the gift of grieving, though. It reminded me that empathy doesn’t have to be such a burden. It reminded me of long buried truths and of stories that I don’t have to share but that I don’t have to hide or forget either.
This isn’t bitterness. I didn’t draw comparisons to be divisive. I am not and will not demean the value of all those sweet little lives. Its not my way to devalue most things. I told my truth; a truth among the many that exist in our universe. I shared my experiences and maybe you can relate, maybe you can’t. I think that may be irrelevant. I just remembered that part of the gift that I found in grieving was a need to let go.
I wish us peace.