Poof! I’m back! I bet you thought I disappeared for good from blogging land, didn’t you! Perhaps abducted by aliens never to be seen again, or traveling cross-country with the band of circus misfits that might have convinced me to be their new acrobatic horseriding lady, but alas, I was just lost and awash in the world of work and the normal holiday chaos that ensues sometime after Thanksgiving Day, and doesn’t stop until after New Years Day. Both of those other options might sound more interesting to me too, depending on which day you ask me.
The honest answer, in addition to the much-loved holiday chaos (and no that was not tongue in cheek, I really do love the craziness that comes with holiday preparation), was that the terrible tragedy of the Sandy Hook massacre, where some suburban nutcase annihilated innocence from an entire community, truly shook me to the core, and left me feeling inside like a house of cards in the wind. I couldn’t write. How could I write about sex and joy in the wake of that? I felt inadequately trivial for even considering it.
I’m still not quite right. I worry a lot more…about everything. But, as all good healing processes progress, so do we find ourselves more willing to be comfortable once again with the world we were once accustomed to before everything came crashing down, and I am in that place where I feel ok to be back and living without feeling like a cloud of doom is hovering over me.
I was not immediately effected by the loss at Sandy Hook, but something I experienced made it touch me more intimately. Up until this point, I had only shared it with those closet to me.
On the Wednesday night into Thursday morning, one day before Sandy Hook, I had a dream. It was a dream that wasn’t even really a dream, as it came without any images at all. I was finishing up a dream. You know that point in the dream when you realize that it’s coming to an end, and a new dream is now waiting to begin trickling in? I was in that space. The first dream fading out had me in a warehouse assembling mannequins with other people. There was nothing scary about this dream. No mood of ill-affect, or any hint of foreboding. It simply was a normal, weird, everyday dream.
And then there were no images.
There was nothing but a simple and solemn male voice that spoke in my ear.
It was all on the right side, as if someone had leaned down and whispered in my ear.
He said, “I”m sorry I have to tell you, Fran was murdered today.”
What happened in the next few seconds after hearing this was pure horror and panic that raced through me as I tried to make sense of what I had just heard, and I flung myself straight up in bed, heart pounding in my chest, mind reeling, grasping for some bit of the waking world to hold onto.
She could not be dead. This was not true. Did my Dad just tell me this? I think it was his voice. It sounded like him. Was I on the phone?
These were the thoughts flashing through me.
(Two pieces of background, so you can understand this situation better. One, Fran is one of my closest and dearest friends. We ere roommates in college beginning sophomore year, and we have been tight ever since. We have goofy pet names for each other, have held conversations with each other about the day while one of us was in the bathroom with the door open and peeing, have been to each others major life events like marriages and births of our children, and know each others inner most joys and sorrows. Friends for life. Two, my father calls me every workday morning at 6:15 to help me get my lazy ass out of bed, because sometimes I like to sleep through my alarm. )
I checked my cell phone which sits on my bedside table on my right side, and it read 4:14am. It’s a dream, it’s a dream, it has to be a dream. It was not my Dad. It’s not even close to wake-up call time. Everyone’s asleep. This is not really happening.
I started to cry.
I was completely and utterly sure it was a dream, then real, and now knew it was indeed a dream.
I laid back down, my heart still leaping out of my chest with panic, and I spent the next five minutes consoling myself that it was not real. I wanted to call Fran, but she lives in Houston, so it was only 3am there.
When I finally got back to sleep, my alarm, and then my father rang at 6:15am, normal time. I told him about my dream, and he asked me if I called Fran to check on her, but I reminded him about he time difference. My Dad is in her same time zone, and said “Well she’s probably up with the baby, so call her.”, but I couldn’t risk waking her.
Finally after I got to work I sent her both text messages and a Facebook message urging her to let me know she was ok. At around 9:30am (HOLY SHIT – JUST MAKING THIS CONNECTION NOW!!! – 9:30am the next day would be Sandy Hook), she let me know she was ok. I never did tell Fran what the voice said. I just told her that it told me something very scary had happened. I did’t want to scare her, and still don’t, so no worries because she doesn’t read my blog on a regular basis.
The next night I stayed up as long as I could. I was afraid to go to sleep. I don’t have nightmares very often, hardly at all, and when I do they are about things less emotionally devitstaing like being swallowed by a tidal wave, or losing my teeth. Both of which are indeed very scary to me, but those kind of dreams are easier to spot as being only dreams. I was able o chat with Fran via Facebook before I finally gave in and let myself go to sleep. Just getting that time chatting with her made me feel comforted.
Sandy Hook occurred he next morning. I didn’t hear about what had happened, except mild inklings, until around 9pm that night. I was working overtime, and was in the office late. I sat at my desk reading the reports, but it wouldn’t be until the next day when I would be sitting here where I sit now, at my desk in my bedroom, when I would read all the articles and be rendered paralyzed with sadness.
I cannot imagine a world in which that could happen. I cannot fathom the kind of heartless and desolate soul that it would call for to be able to harm anyone, let alone tiny innocent children, in the way that man tore those lives from this earth. I cannot, without rendering myself into tears and a throat that suffocates itself closed with tension, imagine what it is like to be the parent of one of those children, left behind on earth to live a life without the sound of their voice filling their home, or the look of their smile that following Christmas morning. I wanted to take down my own Christmas tree because it didn’t feel right to celebrate joy when others so close were in such despair. And I wanted to knock the heads together of those who took it upon themselves to use the threshold of the aftermath of Sandy Hook as a political pulpit for either more gun control, or less gun control. I just wanted those fragile people to have their time to breathe, to feel, to be comforted, and not to be used as a soapbox issues. I wanted people to respect that space, and imagine for a moment, just what it would be like to be one of those parents or surviving children.
I was a teetering house of cards. I felt like if someone pushed me even the slightest, I would topple over, fluttering in all directions.
Slowly I am coming back, but I am still worry more than before, about everything: my daughter’s safety, my parents safety, car accidents, shootings, anything and everything. It just feels like any illusion of safety in the world has been ripped from the very lining of my soul.
I’m crying even writing this down. I have to realize that nothing has changed, and yet, everything has changed, and the two concepts are one in the same.
My cousin Mike posted this single comment on one of my Facebook statuses regarding my fear surrounding the days after the shooting:
“Fear is the mind killer”
So true. If I allow terrorists of any kind, brutal soulless monsters, to steal away my joy and life by freezing me with fear, than they have won. And that was how Dune became one of the book gifts I gave my daughter this Christmas, and ended up being the first one of the 4 books given her, that she chose to read.
I will not allow fear to wither my spirit.
And now onto cultivating life with caution, but without fear, and unrestrained joy…one baby step at a time.