Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tragedies tie us all together.

Its amazing how when you open up the discussion about the tragedies in our lives, just about everyone has a story to tell. What brought this up was it has been a pretty sad week at work. This past weekend one of our Professors lost his son and three year old grandson in a house fire. Another Professor was diagnosed with lung cancer. She is just over 30, doesn't smoke, and just adopted her second baby from Russia. One of my co-workers' neighbors died from a massive heart attack after being diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago. And finally, another co-worker's uncle passed away last weekend.

We were just talking about how we deal with our own tragedies in our lives and our level of understanding when they happened. One co-worker's father passed away when he was 50, which of course was very traumatic for her, her mother and her family. My other co-worker's younger brother died around 3 years ago when he was struck by lightening. He was not holding anything with metal and the storm was still somewhat in the distance. And then my older brother passed away when I was 5, he was 8, from complications from leukemia.

All three of us have had to go through losing people who we love dearly. They wanted to know what level of understanding I had as a 5 year old. The man and little boy who died in the fire had a 5 year old daughter/sister who was also at the house when the fire took her father and brother. I remember odd things, but I rarely think about the details. I am not sure what I understood during that time, but I don't think I know exactly what happened. I still don't really.

I know Mark had leukemia, and a brain tumor, and that the pepto bismol the Dr. prescribed led to internal bleeding, which caused him to slip into a coma. But I could also have that all wrong...

I remember that my sister and I were staying at a family friend's house the day my parents told us and they drove us to our house. On the way we passed a field of yellow wildflowers. Mom and Dad were sitting on our outside swing, but I don't remember what they told us or what happened after that. I remember there were a lot of people at our house; I think even my Mom's family from Florida was already there.

At the funeral, I remember standing outside the building where Mark was, but I never remember being inside. I know my sister threw up in the parking lot, but again, other than that I don't remember anything.

I know that every early March (the anniversary of his death) and every early November (his birthday), I start to get emotional and many times don't know quite why until I stop and think about it. It's happened that way for years. My body won't let me forget, and I am ok with that.

What scares me most is that I know another tragedy will come my way and sometimes it completely pre-occupies my mind. What gives me comfort, though, is knowing that so many others have gone through personal tragedies and deal with the pain, but are ultimately ok and strong, like my Mom. I don't feel like I am strong enough, but I think in the face of tragedy you find strength in hidden places...

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