Several years ago my only and younger brother was killed in a head on collision on a spring school day. I was young and just stepping out as an independent adult ready to take the world by the tail. He was seventeen. There were and still are so many questions about that fateful day. We wondered about the cause of the accident and why he was not in class. We wondered if my brother had suffered in his last moments or even if the accident could have been prevented. Questions without answers as the only living witness was a small black poodle who only suffered glass in his fur.
We all know death in inevitable and will come to us all but when we experience a loss so fast and unexpected, it breaks the earth under our feet. Our innocence is gone. Unexpected tragedy leaves survivors wounded and shattered. We are forever changed. It is akin to going into a cocoon of darkness. If and when we come out we realize life continues in spite of the hellish and unbearable pain we are enduring. We seek answers and we want to know why.
In the 60’s during a time of racial strife, 4 little girls were killed in a church pew when a bomb went off. Two years ago in a sleepy little town in Connecticut a gunman went into a school and killed several small children days before Christmas. All over the world bombs go off and death is seen as a daily event. We still ask why. We don’t expect our children to die in church or in school. We don’t expect them to die on the side of a highway.
Many of us have come to expect safety and control of our environment. We need to feel we are in charge. We go for our annual physicals, eat right, exercise, wear our seat belts all to minimize our chances of anything bad happening to us or our loved ones. We tell our kids to look both ways before crossing the street and to avoid strangers. We move to small idyllic towns where just maybe we can escape the mayhem and danger of the cities. Tragedy still strikes and no one is immune. We also learn in the aftermath that we survive. It is not easy and may take a very long time but the human spirit has a resilience. When we walk through the fire we may get burned but we don’t melt.