I have never in my life wondered “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Soul crushing grief eventually comes to us all. I think I somehow instinctively knew this, or my very early years were truly so horrible that I couldn’t ever imagine a world in any other way. I am never shocked or surprised at truly horrifying news. Sad? Always. Gutted? Often. Unable to get out of bed? Sometimes. Surprised? Never. The world is full of shitty people who do shitty things; the world is full of shitty things that affect people indiscriminately. All. The. Time.
A friend lost her parent far too soon.
Another lost her unborn babe, there was no more heartbeat.
Another lost his children, both of them.
Another lost his faith and footing.
Another discovered she’d lost her husband months ago to someone else, but he conveniently forgot to mention it.
Cancer, more cancer, young moms with cancer, teenagers with cancer, babies with cancer, beloved pets with cancer.
Being unable to protect the people who make up a million little pieces of your heart.
None of the above stories are my stories, they are all the heartbreak of friends and loved ones, people I would give up a kidney for if it could save them from a broken heart; for some I’d fight a full-grown grizzly bear. Their heartbreak absolutely affects me, deeply, but the circumstances don’t ever shock me. I guess that means I’m a pessimist–I expect the worst to happen to everyone at some point. Hell, The Worst will probably show up more than once.
I’m not a total pessimist, the hopeful part of me truly believes that, sooner or later, most of us will struggle back to our feet and keep shuffling along, even after The Worst has smashed us to pieces. We won’t be the same, we will never be the same, but we keep going. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who has the luxury of clutching her pearls and taking to her fainting couch for the rest of forever; eventually have to keep going. After a while it doesn’t hurt to breathe anymore, then we can go whole minutes at a time without falling to pieces. Eventually, we get up every day (or, most days) and we struggle to our feet and we keep going. We rely on friends, family, and strangers to help us along, but we don’t FullStop forever because our life is torn to pieces.
We all experience indescribable loss, hurts that should actually stop your heart and prevent you from feeling anything ever again. But we keep going. We may not want to, we may hibernate for days or weeks or even years, but most of us keep going. We help each other get up and keep going. We give a metaphorical kidney (or, you know, an actual kidney), or we send text messages that require no response, just to let them know they are loved.
In my time I’ve fought some battles, many for myself, some on behalf of someone else. I’ve got my scars and my war stories, and with a tricky combination of therapy, medicine, and sheer will power I’ve found a way to keep going. For now. But I 100% expect to be hit with another freight train full of bullshit, I 100% believe my life will be turned completely upside down again, torn to pieces, and then stomped on. It will happen. It happens to everybody. And all we can do is a) try to remember how to breathe, and then b) take the rest of it one step at a time.
PS. For those who are struggling with demons too big, too torturous, and too overwhelming…even after they stop fighting, even after they are gone, there will always be a space in my heart where they will are safe and happy. Mike. Stacy. Daniel. Micah. Ryan.