A friend's daughter died tragically last Sunday, and our community has been grieving deeply for her and her family. We feel the loss of this child as if she were our own.
Anytime something like this happens, I notice a few things. The first thing is the need to do something. Anything. I am a woman in her thirties who does not obsess over details, but I found myself this week a part of an army of friends and neighbors calling florists, plotting maps to strategically place balloons, and stressing about meal-delivery schedules for the family. Yes, all of this is a show of love for a family going through the unthinkable. Of course. But none of it will bring this little girl back to her parents, and as we ran around town like busy bees, this knowledge stung.
Also, the goodness of people. I would love to say this is Pleasantville-specific, but honestly, I don't think it is. People are, for the most part, so damn good. They are so giving. For every kind act I witnessed this week, there were countless more kind acts behind it.
Because when something horrible happens, people often say, 'I can't imagine'. But they are wrong. Of course they can imagine. Especially if you are a parent, a friend, a neighbor... you can imagine what it would be like to lose the things-- the people-- most precious to you. That imagining is what springs you into action, whether it be balloon-tying, meal-preparing, or good ol' fashioned prayer. It humbles you to the point of submission. You fall to your knees, despite yourself.
This whole week, I was struck by how vulnerable we are, every single day. Call it whatever you want, but whatever sense of control or security we have over our lives is false. Laughingly so. Why do we live as though silly things matter? Why do we let people's opinions of us determine our happiness? I am just as guilty as anyone else of this, but maybe after this week, I will be less so.
There is nothing we can do to make ourselves less vulnerable to loss. We could shut ourselves in, I guess, but that is a loss of its own. To live is to be vulnerable. To love is to recognize our small blessings and large miracles. If not for ourselves, then for those who hurt alongside us.