December 14: Family: Did you role in the family shift or change over the past year? How? Why?
I had started writing this post this morning, before nearly thirty people — twenty of them children — were mercilessly gunned down in Connecticut.
I went back over the scraps of what I had written, but none of them seemed usable after sitting stunned in my office, refreshing the news all afternoon. Watching my TweetDeck update. Flipping between channels on TV.
It is said that to bring tragedy down to the level of ourselves, we pick out the bits that correspond to our experiences — I used to live in Connecticut; that took place twenty minutes from where I used to live; I was just in that area — and so on and so forth. I think some people look on that with disgust — as if to say: How can you be so selfish, making tragedy about you?! But I think the human brain looks to break vast swathes of unprocessible information into digestible chunks — and tagging tragedy with relatable markers — my mother is a teacher — is one such manner of digesting.
In other words, what seems selfish is perhaps just uniquely human.
So maybe, one and the same.
I had intended to write about how my role in my urban tribe has changed over the last year, but that seemed infinitely less relevant in light of the events of the afternoon. I thought, too, about writing about my family of origin — my parents; my brother — and how much we’ve grown.
And I had even intended to touch on how my relationship with my best friend of twenty years had changed, too. I had wanted to talk about how for the past two decades, we had been our own special sort of family.
But then the President came on TV, and he wept for the ones we lost today.
It all seemed very strange. Horrible and strange.
I am sickened and saddened by what happened. And I am a sister; a daughter; a friend. I’m a member of a big, bold, loud family — bound by blood and by choice. The family changes and grows and morphs and moves over time.
But what’s great is that no one puts those ties asunder.
So I cannot begin to fathom the pain; the grief; the losses of the families whose precious bond has been broken by these crimes. I am sorry, and I am sad, and I am at a loss to say much more.
Except…families persist. You can try to break them into a million pieces; you can attempt to chop up what sticks them together — maybe you’ll even succeed. But families are like worms. Or, better, like starfish. If and when broken, they grow back into beautiful wholes.
This is to say that I am presently feeling a bit shattered but hopeful for when I will see the beautiful wholes to come.
And they will.