After a traumatic event, there is always the inevitable journey of recovering. A journey of highs and lows, good days and bad days, better days and worse days.
Before I had children, I experienced my share of loss and pain. My high school friend committed suicide when we were 16. My only grandparent died when I was 16. In my 20’s a group from our church was involved in a car accident that took the life of two of our youth group members… and then a couple years later a friend that I admired and loved dearly died in a freak car accident during a rally… and so life continues. As long as there is life, there will be death. It is the natural progression. We are born and given life. We live, and then we die. The Bible says we have 70 years, 80 if we are strong (Ps 90:10). But not all live till they are 70. It is not death that I find to be the most painful, it is the event leading to death that causes the most destruction and pain in some cases.
When my grandmother passed, she was 80. She had a good life. She was a very kind lady who served God with her whole life. I used to visit her over school holidays and stay with her for several days. I have fond memories of times spend with her. When she died, I was extremely sad, and to this day, I miss her. But I do not think of her in sorrow or sadness. She had a full life. When I think of my friend Christo who died at 16, I always become very sad, because I do not understand his death. My dear friend that died in the car crash, all the questions, the why’s… As I get older, my questions have changed, and my ability to cope with traumatic experiences has improved… although it does not feel that way lately. Experiences in life prepares us for what is to come, and we learn coping mechanisms to deal with the painful parts of life. Or so I thought.
The road to recovery I am on now, however, is different from anything I have ever experienced, and I am not at all prepared for it. The emotions I have, the thoughts and questions and the deep sad pain that threatens to overwhelm me is very new to me, and at times it feels life threatening… Because it is not only my own pain I have to cope with… I see the pain and sorrow my little 15-year-old is struggling with after this devastating event. I see her not knowing how to process the loss of a friend. As an adult with some life experience and experience of loss trough death, I am not equipped to deal with a traumatic event such as a school shooting. I was not in the building when it happened, yet, I struggle with the event, and I have a very difficult time keeping my emotions under control. At first I cried every day, and now I cry intermittently, just suddenly overwhelmed by an enormous sense of loss. I try to hide my feelings and not show my girls my suffering, since it is different from theirs. I suffer as a parent, for the loss of a child, a pain no parent should experience. I cry because the future of innocent children had been stolen from them, and because we will never be who we were before this life changing traumatic event. I cry because I did not have the ability to protect my girls from this experience. I cry because I cannot make it undone, I cannot turn back time to prevent this. My little girl’s heart is so broken, and I cannot mend it. I cry because I see her pain and suffering, and I know my inability to wipe away her pain and make it better again. A Band-Aid and a kiss will not work this time. And so, we’ve been on this road to recovery for almost a year, yet it feels as if the journey has not started yet. It feels as if we are still standing at the beginning of the road. One step forward, two steps back. Prayer and counselling and more prayer and counselling. The road is never ending and the journey permanent. Will I ever make it through? Will my little girls ever recover completely from this event? I want to believe yes. As a child of God, with a firm believe that He is love, grace and kindness, I know that He restores, and He has a purpose and a plan… Does my faith feel real to me at the moment? No, it does not. But believing is not a feeling, it is a knowing. I know the truth and therefore I must trust and believe that this road will become bearable and the journey will become tolerable and we will rise up like the eagles and soar above this event. And therefore I try. I try to move forward. For my children’s sake, I am trying to make this journey. Sometimes I just want to lay down and allow this tremendous sadness to sweep over me. I just want to close my eyes and stop resisting the pain and tears. But I fear if I go there, I may never get up again. I will persist and walk this road, and travel this journey