Dear Crash and Mars:
It was a tragic sort of weekend as you said on the radio. A young woman, about to be married was killed at a Jeep demonstration. A young man ran into traffic and was struck and killed by a 17 year old driver. And yes, a car drove into a patio, and a 2 year old boy was killed.
You said the family of the 2 year old was ruined.
I was offended.
You see, there are a group of us who know what you are so frightened of. There are a group of women in my city, who bit their lips and closed their eyes and viscerally felt the pain of that mother. We know what it is to hold your lifeless child.
We know what it is to stare into closed eyes, willing them to open.
And we know what it is to wake up the morning after, and the morning after that.
And so we know – they aren’t ruined.
We know because we had to make a choice. We had to come back from this. We know that life, the universe and everything may come to an end in a terrible way one day. We know that life isn’t fair, it doesn’t even out and that declaring how you would never recover is no guarantee that the fundamental inequity of the universe won’t visit you.
So, we are offended.
Because, from this computer, in the 20 minutes I have squeezed out between meetings, in the middle of giving my best friend’s cat sub-cutaneous fluids and talking to my husband, I know that ruination is too extreme and not descriptive enough.
I held my son’s body in my arms while he died. My husband stood and watched us, held our baby as we said good bye. And then stood next to me for a long time as we clawed our way back to life.
And then, when it became apparent that there would be no more babies, we started a foundation to help others.
And then we became the world’s greatest Aunt and Uncle. And we fed a parade of young adults Sunday dinner. And we did a good job at our work and got promoted.
And we planted a tree for our son and renovated our house and we went for dinner with friends and paid our bills and went on vacations.
It has been five years since that day.
Long enough to know that this isn’t ruin.
When you say that they are ruined, you say that they can’t come back from this. You say that there is no hope and no redemption. They are, forever, broken.
Not broken, not ruined say we. Forever changed and forever missing their children, but not ruined.
So please, in the middle of this horror and pain, don’t use the word ruined. Because, when they are ready, there is a group of us who will help them try and crawl out of the hole. Just like others did for us. We will sit at the edge and wait, until they hold out their hand. And then we will tell them – what we did, what worked for us.
We will stare in their eyes and we will be unflinching. We will tell them that it will always hurt. The pain doesn’t go away. It is simply balanced, more distributed. It will not always hurt like this. It won’t always seem like this.
And a group of us, who have climbed from that hole, we know this isn’t ruin. We know that the universe that broke them, that dealt with them so brutally still holds sunshine and joy. We know that the universe will wait for them, will hold out the promise of better days.
We know that you can come back from this. We know that you have to. You aren’t ruined.