I saw friend in the store yesterday. I’ll call her Jane. Jane gives amazing hugs. Part of what makes them so great is that it’s her greeting. She goes right past hello and before you know it she’s warmly embracing you. Most days I get a Jane hug, I absolutely need them. I’m almost brought to tears, they are that special.
On this day though, midhugging I feel a tremble and realize that Jane is the one crying. I keep hugging her. I knew this feeling so well. The weight of life sometimes just collapses into a well intentioned embrace. But this feels much deeper.
While were are hugging she starts saying her daughters name. It’s the name of a daughter I’ve never met but have heard so much about. It’s her daughter who passed away too soon.
She starts apologizing, and before I can stop her from doing that she explains that the last few days have been really hard. That the shootings in Florida have brought her own feelings of loss to the surface and it’s been unbearable. “ I know how that feels” she tells me “it’s killing me that any parent has to experience this. All those parents who just lost her kid. I know that feeling”
She’s wiping away tears and the only thing I can mutter is I’m sorry. “You’re right” I tell her, and I’m so sorry.
As we part ways I feel guilty for having so few words. But the truth is I don’t know that feeling. I don’t know what it’s like to make funeral arrangements for a child. Or wake up every morning knowing your child no longer shares this world with you.
My lack of understanding left me with little to say except I’m sorry.
Before leaving the store I run into Jane again but this time she’s talking with someone else. I give her a little smile and go on my way, but pick up a fragment of the conversation that she’s having with this other person.
“Mental health… people with problems…” went the bit I heard being told to Jane.
Obviously I have no idea what occurred before I passed by. Did Jane hug and cry and express what she expressed to me to this other person? Did she talk about the feeling of losing a kid and how every time there’s a shooting she relives that feeling again and again?
I don’t know. What I do know is that the Jane I was hugging did not want to piece together how a persons mental health should be the blame for parents loosing their kids forever.
The Jane that I was hugging and crying with just wanted to feel heard, understood and loved.
And that’s what yesterday taught me. If we listen to the people who have to live and relive this. If we choose them and their suffering over everything else. I think it’s then may get close to ensuring this stops happening and never occurs again.