Unimaginable

May 21, 2013 in Blog

20100911-flag-half-staff-e1343053390396[1]            The US Flag caught my eye as I drove past the Honda dealership today on the way to my daughter’s school.  It’s exceptionally majestic, high in the sky, dancing in the wind.  I was wondering if and when the order would come to lower it to half mast – if that’s done for natural disasters – to signify mourning for the more than 50 people killed due to yesterday’s tornado in Oklahoma.  It seems like the flags are always at half mast these days for one tragedy or another.

            And then nearly an hour later, after dropping my daughter off, I turned the radio back on to the news and listened to stories of the tornado and my heart burst open again with sadness.  In thinking about the schools that were leveled I wondered how smart it is that I take my daughter to a school so far away that it would take so long be to get her if disaster struck – and that she’d be nearly an hour away from my son.  The thought of having to make a choice brought my stomach to turning.  I envisioned the faces of my children struck with terror, separated from me, with death screaming towards them.  It fills me with panic and unimaginable sadness to see that.  Every…  Time… I close…  My eyes…  To blink.

            And finally, as I walked into the office, I overheard some women talking by the coffee machine and the tv, tuned to the news, on the second floor.  One woman said, “I’m sorry but really, if you know it’s coming why don’t they evacuate.”  She said.  About “them.”  “They” should evacuate, and I wondered how much time is the right amount of time to evacuate?  If I’m forty five minutes from in no traffic, do I have time to reach my child and evacuate?  Or would I rely on that woman, in that school, who had her car right there in the parking lot and could have left, but she didn’t.  Because she needed to bring the children to safety.  And when the five year olds needed her, she protected their souls, shielding their bodies with hers as a car, lifted into the air by the force of nature came hurling at them.  The children are unscathed and she, remarkably, protected by the same God who threw the car, leaves the scene only injured.  If I were the mother of the child seeking shelter under that woman’s body, how grateful – simply unimaginable gratitude – would I have for the woman who could have fled but chose not to.

            The other woman replied, “or move.  I mean, how many times must your home be destroyed…” says a woman, whose home was never destroyed.  I suppose, if you’re well paid and can afford losses on your home and are free enough from roots that hold you to a location – by poverty, by memories, by duty – I suppose you would move.  Maybe you’d move here, where it’s safe and where nothing bad could ever possibly happen.  I mean – other than earthquakes or acts of terror.  Here where malice and cruelty doesn’t exist.  Here with these women who joke and trivialize at the deaths of fifty men, women, brothers, sisters, children, parents, loved ones, family pets, livelihoods, memories.  Tragedy doesn’t exist here.

            I’ve been judgmental.  And I have laughed at the expense of others and I’ve made jokes that were insensitive, untimely, or callous.  I regret that.  More now than probably any other moment in the past or in the future, when I will inevitably do it again.  Today, though… today I am filled with gratitude for what I do have and cherish and for the people who have stood in the face of peril to protect innocence and even for catty women in the break area who remind me to consider these different perspectives, so that I can be filled with unimaginable gratitude.

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