debt of lament

Senseless tragedy strikes us regardless of our careful avoidance tactics. We might bubble wrap hotel rooms to protect our toddling child. We might practice a compulsive prayer ritual before boarding an airplane. We might wear our seat belts and look twice before crossing the road.

Tragedy strikes anyway. The earth shakes. The kings hold their thrones with weapons and war. Cars drive by.

Tragedy strikes anyway. And when it strikes, we are left wallowing in the senselessness of it all, wondering what to say or how to act or who might have the words that will put the pieces back together.

A week after my brother died, I got out of bed, put my clothes on, got into a car with my sister and marched onto a dewy practice field, tooting my borrowed and banged-up mellophone. I felt dented and holey like the instrument, but I looked like every other kid. Smiling, marching, counting my steps.

As time progressed, the world began to insist more fervently that I behave and feel like any other 15 year-old: only slightly emotionally frenetic, like sparkles on a floppy 70s flower.  The demand to be as any other harrowed at my already withered, exhausted soul. In my small world, I was alone in a club of survivors of senseless tragedy. For many years in my teenaged life, I didn't know anyone else who knew the loss of the person who was more irritating than fingernails on a chalkboard and funnier than any TGIF sitcom. Perhaps my sister was in the club, but I think she found our brother more endearing and less irksome. Her love for my brother seemed purer, less muddled-up than mine. The fact is I felt alone enough that I was alone, left to make sense of the pain, left to make my outsides resemble my insides without taking to physical self-violence.

Enough time has passed that I know I am not alone anymore. I stare into the world today, into the eyes of my classmates, my friends, my neighbors, and strangers. I see a people trying to make their outsides match their insides. Our hearts burn at the senselessness of the world, but we don't talk about it. We don't rend our garments and throw dust on our heads. We get up and march on dewy fields, smiling, blinking back the waves of emotion in the corner of our eyes.

All our words are written down in chalk
Out in the rain on the sidewalk
If all our heartaches were in a stack
They'd go all the way up to heaven and back

We don't know all the trouble we're in
We don't know how to get home again
Jesus come and save us from our sin
--Buddy and Julie Miller, Chalk

This post is written as a contribution to a friendly synchroblog. Please check out the writing and art of my fellow bloggers.

iwritetoberidofthings, my baby, the earth
muddleddreamer, Indebted
Nightsbrightdays, Debt, n
Wordshepherd,  What do I Owe You?

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