I am lying under a blue sky with a hint of a breeze in the full sun of an early July afternoon near the shoreline of Lake Michigan . In this moment I feel a deep current of perfection coursing through everything I see–and I bow with my breath in deep gratitude for the peace of this moment, knowing all too well that these fleeting moments are sandwiched between the ever present awareness of trauma and horror from my son’s suicide that are never very far from my line of vision, no matter how much I try to apply strategies for their removal or atleast their softening.
July means celebrations with families and fireworks, both of which are triggers for a deep ache from which we must brace ourselves and talk ourselves and each other through, in our house. The irony of this experience of oppressive sadness when the whole country is celebrating its ‘Independence’ is not lost on me. More stifling than the sticky humidity is the shallow breathing and full body contractions from those echoing explosions, from a certain distance away. You do get used to it I suppose– in the way one who is repeatedly verbally assaulted might– it jars and stuns, but you can numb out.
I can only imagine what this holiday is like for people who have been though war or a mass shooting or acts of terrorism. Ours was one shot at close range that didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard– so fireworks don’t exactly replicate it, they just startle and feel invasively familiar.
It’s not that I get fired up– I don’t want to advocate away anyone’s right to use them or place restrictions. I ooohed and ahhhed with the best of them over the splendor and pageantry in the sky for most of my life. It just makes me wonder how many traditions I’ve participated in unconsciously, that caused others pain or discomfort or a reentry into their trauma. It’s very interesting to me how a majority’s desire for ‘fun’ superscedes a minority’s well being. It happens all over I’m sure, I’m just hyper aware of this one way it shows up. There are plenty of others.
We have been noticing how frequently ‘killing yourself’ comes up in stand up comedy. As if it’s a joke. A guy on a podcast I listen to frequently references ‘pulling the trigger” and other gun colloquialisms in his discussions about growth mindset. On social media, people use emojis of a gun next to an emoji face when their favorite team loses a basketball game or their kids won’t take a nap. People put their hand up to their temple, make a gun and pull the trigger when telling a story about sitting in traffic or their boring work conference. It’s everywhere.
I’m not appalled by these things. I’m just very aware of their frequency– like when you buy a new car and suddenly notice how many others just like it are out there, that you never noticed before. I don’t feel anger or sadness necessarily, I just have this ongoing mantra “forgive them for they know not what they do”. I don’t expect the world to be hyper vigilant to every sensitivity of mine or anyone else’s. I know how to take care of myself, I am not in crisis, I have tools. But it gives me pause for others who do not. It stirs my empathy.
So, if you’re reading this and you, too, feel angst on this rambunctious 4th of July weekend, I send out lovebeams like quiet fireworks, and I hope it lights up your skyheart.