Shaken

For the past few days I had been planning to compose a much happier and certainly more inspiring blog post. Now I lie in bed tossing and turning, unable to let go of the incomprehensible events that transpired in Connecticut yesterday morning.

I can’t pretend to understand the extent of the trauma so many families are experiencing tonight, including the survivors of the Lanza family. As I watched it unfold on the news earlier one thought kept running through my mind: this is the instant that will change everything for these families.

The word “murder” is terrifying, yet the overuse of it on sensational TV shows often convinces us that it has no place in our everyday lives. As I sat on my stoop on the morning of August 18th making repeated calls to 911, I tried desperately to push that ugly word out of mind. Images of my husband lying dead on the street or in a ditch somewhere flashed rapidly through my brain while my logic screamed, “No! This does not happen to people like me!”

Looking back I recognize the stupidity of that assumption. Random acts of violence do indeed happen to people like me. They can happen to anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. And for no reason at all.

The past few weeks have been hectic but peaceful for us. Even though we are living daily with the after effects of a very serious traumatic brain injury, I have felt farther and farther removed from the trauma of TC’s attack.

And then there are days like today. December 14th. A day that for many families will serve as the dividing point in their lives, the point separating the “before” from the “after.” If they are like me, these families will spend hours agonizing over the minute details leading up to this point: the texts, the phone calls, the little decisions that all very well could have changed the outcome of their lives forever. For me it’s the agony of knowing my husband should have been on a business trip that week. A trip he canceled because I had a painful ear infection. For those in Connecticut it may have been a conversation about staying home sick from school that day or a million other possible details that could have impacted some part of the great tragedy.

When you scrape your knee a new layer of skin immediately begins trying to heal over the wounded flesh. The same is true for trauma. While the blood may be gone, the sting lessened, beneath the surface lies the wound you can’t see. As today reminded me, trauma doesn’t just disappear. It lies beneath the surface, occasionally stinging with the memories you so desperately wish you could forget. It will surprise you in its unpredictable reemergence. A news story, the prayer shawl you laid over your husband’s comatose body, your son’s piercing blue eyes – any of these things may inflict pain at a moment’s notice.

No one ever imagines their name in connection with a violent crime. No one’s life story should ever contain a chapter about murder, senseless grief, or unimaginable trauma, yet so many life stories were altered in the past 24 hours.

So as I, along with so many others, try to make peace with these events as we lay ourselves down to sleep, I pray for strength for the community of Newtown, CT. I pray for their resilience, their resolve, and their courage. And I pray hard that when the sensationalist news coverage ends, that there will be enduring lessons to be learned from this tragedy, lessons that may prevent this type of trauma from entering anymore lives.

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