(I know the nicest people.)
As much as I was trying to focus on the joy of this type of drop off, I had recently started reading a blog about a woman who had tragically lost her son and I found myself a little extra paranoid about safety, in addition to the already constant movie reel of tragedy in my brain which I press play on as soon as one of my family members is out of my sight. Fear not, I have discussed this with a mental health professional and it turns out this is really common...for the mentally insane.
Totally kidding, it's common for "normal" people too.
I mentioned the blog and my friend said, "oh Leslie, why do you let yourself read those things?"
I get this quite often when I relay a sad situation or recent tragedy.
(Please understand that despite almost every word you have read thus far, I am not Debbie Downer all the time and I will, some day, make a point.)
I understand the desire to avoid this sad train of thought, particularly for us Moms. I get it, I do, but I think it's sort of important to read the sad stuff. There is a lot of good in that sad stuff, particularly for those of us not mentioned in any of it.
Allow me to explain myself.
I have, without question, an amazing life. I have a healthy, happy family. I'm mad for my husband. I love my home and I am grateful for the infinite little pleasures like good books, Starbucks, old Gossip Girl episodes, and fun eye makeup. I want for nothing.
Well, I actually want for all sorts of things, new jeans, those microwave tortilla warmers, some heeled oxfords, that $180 trash can...these types of things could fill pages, there is no end, but there is no hole in me for not having them.
I am happy. I am grateful. I am blessed.
Like all of us though, I am still so flawed and filled with bad days of self pity and a deep lack of gratitude. I get resentful and frustrated. I feel alone in the role of parenting, and completely abandoned in almost all my relationships, which couldn't be more false.
I don't like these days...but I accept them as a periodic part of my life. The trick is getting over these days fast, and some times that's difficult for me. I get caught up in it all and sometimes it's tough to move past myself. I'm selfish and that is never more apparent than when I wallow in my blahs. I hate it.
It's difficult though, and I've been through those times quite frequently since having children. Nothing has pushed me deeper in to sadness, or bliss, than my kids. Unfortunately, the sadness and the bliss make frequent appearances, so I have a lot of experience in learning how to get over the sad, the frustrating, the desperate.
I read almost all the sad stuff that comes my way. I read stories about children with terminal illness, families ripped apart by addiction, rape, and abuse. I bawl over books, articles and blogs that tell the intimate details of situations that cause me to fall on my knees with gratitude that my family and I have no personal experience with them. I don't seek these stories out, but I don't turn away from them and I never abandon them until they end...or stop being shared.
I do not relish in knowing tragedy has struck someone, but I find hope and courage in allowing myself to pray for them, contact them, or simply share their story.
I read Anna See's An Inch of Gray whenever she posts, and have done so since I first learned that her son died in a flash flood at the age of 12 this past fall. I feel like I have been punched in the gut every time I read about the cavernous hole in their family's life that her son's death has created. I bawl when she writes about not knowing what to do with the every day things like favorite foods or Lego sets that are so painfully present when her son is not. I hate it, and I love it.
I feel like Anna, and anyone writing about this type of grief, is sharing this amazing gift to all of us. She's sharing all the things we never get to know about loss until we are in it and it hurts way too much. She's helping us to know how to be better friends, better neighbors, better people of the world the next time someone in our community is struck with such a horror. She has offered a window in to something so inexplicably painful and has not shied from sharing it all.
She's basically doing her own Oprah interview since Oprah isn't doing that anymore.
I could write about this particular blog for a long time, and I am sure there are a lot of blogs similar to it, but I only read hers regularly. I feel so connected to Anna now that she pops in to my mind at the most random of moments through the day...and I have never met her. She has no idea who I am and I like thinking that my caring about her matters.
(Anyone else think those last two sentences screamed, stalker!!!??? How many times have I tried to reassure you of my sound mental health in this post?)
I think of her and her son and it helps me to, sometimes, remember to tread lightly, be kind, and cherish what I have now. It takes me out of myself and I think we all need to do that more.
Quick side note: This whole idea that I'm nuts for reading the sad stuff has been going through my head for weeks, but I finally decided just to write it out so all the other voices inside my head can get back to work. You know?
If this is your first time reading, please check out this or this or this or this for my more usual posts.
I won't tell you to go get sad all the time, just every third Wednesday.
I'm linking up to Shell's Things I Can't Say, Pour Your Heart Out! Check it out here.