I came home tonight, unpacked groceries, prepared dinner, put some clothes in the dryer. I stood at the kitchen sink and washed dishes and watched Hannah out the window, her carefree twirl as the giant bubble wand made huge bubbles in the late afternoon light. The wind had dropped, and I watched the bubbles float lazily through the sky; the way they created a sense of peace and calm. Such a direct contrast to the chaos in my mind. I realised with painful clarity that this was just a normal night for me, nothing in my life had changed. And I wondered at the unfairness of that in the light of this week just gone.
Right now, there seems to be nothing fair in this goddamn life.
There is nothing fair in the loss of an eighteen year old boy who had his whole life ahead of him – a son, a brother, a friend, a boyfriend.
There is nothing fair in another loss in the same week – of a man, a husband, a daddy to two little children; also a son and a brother, and my husband’s cousin.
There is nothing fair for those left behind who can do nothing else but grieve. There is nothing to understand, nothing to make sense of, nothing to grasp that can even begin to help come to terms with the loss and the grief and the pain. So many goddamn questions with so few answers. And I don’t feel right that my life goes on as normal when I know that the life of the families of those left behind will never be normal again.
People say that having a faith at times likes these is what helps to pull you through. I disagree. It sucks balls to have a faith at times like these. Because I should have some kind of an answer, something to say that reassures and brings peace. But I don’t. Instead I sit here and rage against this God who says He has a purpose and a plan for everything, and I wonder then what the hell was the purpose of such tragedy? Hot, angry tears stream down my face and I ask – where the hell were you, God? Were you sleeping? Were you distracted with war in the Middle East, with China’s financial collapse, with dropping gigantic hailstones in NSW, and these two slipped under Your radar? I am angry and I am so heavy hearted for those two dear families and I do not understand and stuffed if I am going to sit here and tell a person who is breaking apart with grief that they need to trust this was all for a purpose and a plan. Bullshit.
I confess that even as someone with a faith, I do not understand God. Not in the slightest. I have more questions than answers, more doubts than certainties. I cannot tell you why bad things happen to good people, why natural disasters wipe out hundreds of thousands of people, why children get sick and die, why prayers don’t get answered when they come from the most desperate of hearts. I cannot tell you how it can ever be okay that shattered parents are left to bury their child. Or that a grieving wife and children are left to bury their beloved husband and father.
The only thing I know is this:
That in the depths of brokenness is where least expected beauty can be found. Because inasmuch as I cry with grief over such tragedy, I cry with the beauty of seeing how a community has come together to support one another. Suddenly the division that we so often see in these small towns comes crashing down; we all are thrown on the same side. We all tread water together, hold each other up, help each other to stay strong when we feel we could very likely drown.
The support that has been shown to the students and teachers at this time simply undoes me, likewise the support I see the students offering one another. I am so thankful that my children attend a school which displays such compassion, caring, understanding and empathy.
The love and support that I see in my husband’s family, and in the community that surround his family hits me even harder again.
It has taken me a long time to embrace the concept of a large family, and a community which soon became a larger family still. I grew up in such an isolated world, and as an adult I still feel akin to an orphan. I have not always understood large families and small communities, nor have I always appreciated them. I’ll be the first to tell you about the claustrophobia that comes with living in a small rural community. But I will also be the first to tell you of how they come together when it matters and they way they support each other with such tender love and grace.
My faith ultimately means nothing at this time, because I grapple with as much confusion and grief as anyone.
But this I know:
That it’s okay not to understand. It’s okay to ask questions, it’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to not have answers, it’s okay to not know the bigger picture, but to wake to each new day and face it as best you can, one day at a time. My belief in God isn’t determined on whether I understand Him or not. And my belief in God doesn’t mean I have to put on my Christian mask and pretend as if I get this damn thing called life. I don’t get it. I’m pissed at God and He knows it. But that doesn’t change His love for me.
And so I’m not going to sit here and quote some token scripture about how everything has a purpose and plan and works for the good of God. I don’t see God in this kind of tragedy at all. But what I do know is that when I see family and community come together and show each other such love, such kindness, such support – that’s where I see God. Because the only thing I seem to understand about God is unconditional love. And maybe it’s not our job to understand or to make sense of this life and all of the grief we endure, but merely to love one another with everything we have. To understand that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. To weep with those who weep.
To somehow, in the darkest of times, and depths of such brokenness and sorrow… to somehow understand that our healing does not come through having the answers. But through stitching each other’s wounds.
RIP Jarrod and Simon.