I am turning the corner between promises, from a “I will be tender with weaknesses” to “I will share strengths.” Yesterday, I received a recorded message from the school principal: one of my daughter’s school mates was shot and killed over the weekend. When I saw my daughter in the evening, we were both tired. Our conversation was brittle:
Me: I got a phone message from the principal. Did you know the guy who was killed?
She: I knew about it this weekend. I didn’t know him well.
Me: It’s very sad; that shouldn’t happen.
She. It shouldn’t, but it does. It’s not the first time…
I was drawn to the keyboard by an instinct that says this is about weakness and strength. I flail around for a while, looking at police statistics, wondering what this has to do with me…Why are my eyes filling up? Why is my throat closing? Why is my heart heavy?
It has to do with me because it’s my child, lifting her shoulder and saying “it happens.”
It has to do with me because, with little twists of fortune, that could have been my child bleeding out of his belly on the boulevard.
It has to do with me because “any man’s death diminishes me.”
So I let my eyes sting; I let my voice rasp; I let my chest drop.
I breathe in the pain of children killing children. I breathe in parents’ and teachers’ and friends’ grief. I breathe in the hard shells we are all constructing around ourselves to protect us from the pain.
I breathe out peace… Peace to the grieving souls… Peace to the children turning fear and adrenaline into violence…
I breathe out courage…Courage to the grief stricken to go on with tenderness instead of bluster or hate… Courage to all of us to soften, soften, soften.
Be willing not to know.
Be willing to be weak.
Be willing to surrender.
Be willing to take action.
Be willing to imagine.
Be willing to believe.