The walls were lavender.
The room is hued in a smokey purple as the autumn sun set. And the back of my hand finds my mouth, as the gasps pour out of me.
I’ve contained them all day. Slowly being worn down under their weight, until I couldn’t contain them any longer. I breathed through them like contractions when sitting at a stop light, hands clutching the steering wheel. I swallowed them when scrolling through my social media feeds.
Now, finally standing still, undistracted by anything in particular, I had stopped, and they started.
I’m so scared right now.
You probably don’t have to search your minds for very long as to what may have happened this week that would leave so many reeling.
But it’s more than that.
It’s the reactions after. Such anger. Such pain.
This is not a place I, or anyone else, thought we would ever find ourselves in. Not a place we want to stay. Or, perhaps it is. Because this will eventually be comfortable. This place won’t challenge us.
But this place, if we linger here too long, will change us.
My dad died in August. And I know that something so personal can seem so unrelated to all of this mess. But that pain has colored my world for the last nearly three months. It has shaded in areas I didn’t expect; drawn the light out in others that I never before appreciated.
And I realize that…we all have such bigger things to worry about.
Because there is something bigger than what’s dominating the news headlines right now.
Since my dad left me holding his hand, beside a hospital bed, alone in a room for just a few minutes before I had to leave him for the last time, I have tried to decide what I was going to do with this time that I had left.
Somewhere in there, in this fragmented mind, I made this solemn vow to love people. Wherever I could go. And what that looks like for each person, each situation, might be different.
But if I chose this path wholeheartedly, it might never change anyone else; but it could certainly change me.
My pain is different than those of the marginalized. Those who are worried about putting food on the table. Those who are worried about whether or not they will have the chance to love the person of their choosing. Those who find themselves in unexpected predicaments, and are faced with hard choices.
And yet, our pain, our hurt, is the same. Because we feel alone. We feel like it separates us out; makes us different in unpleasant ways. It makes us feel like we are scarred. It makes us feel like we aren’t whole.
Unwanted. Unheard. Under-valued. Unseen.
I’ve carried this tornado inside of me for almost three months. Every time, I think I have made it through some of the hardest parts, something new tells me that I’m wrong. Like the fact that no one else in my family really cares for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, except for my dad. And he won’t be here. And there won’t be cranberry sauce.
It makes me want to give up.
The last two days have been one of those times that it makes me want to give up. Such divides. Such contempt.
What is the point?
I told my dad, in my secret heart, that I would try to use the days ahead for something good, something better; that wasn’t about me.
And then I see the vitriol at its angriest, words burning red in my eyes from a screen. And I wonder what the point really even is?
I sat on my stair case today, that sun still meandering its way down the sky. My children knowing something was wrong as my insides turned out again, when I just wanted to tell someone that I hurt so, so bad, about so many things.
And the words whispered into my ear: no one said this would ever be easy.
It’s easy to love people when they are lovable.
When it detracts the least possible amount of energy and expenditure on our parts. It’s the times when people are wildly unapproachable that we must seek to love the hardest. Or else…we aren’t really loving them, are we? We wouldn’t be living by a mantra to tolerate and accept others if we back down when it would be really, really easy to.
We would be giving in to pain. And if we stay here long enough, a single angst ridden track on repeat, the pain won’t ultimately change. But we will.
There are days to fold up inside of ourselves, and give up.
But we can’t. We just can’t.