On April 17th I was still reeling from the Boston Marathon bombings, I wasn't thinking about what was going to happen next. I abhor violence, on television, in the movies. (Tell this to my Walking Dead addiction.) So, when I heard about the explosion in West, Texas I was saddened, but I wasn't aware of how much worse it was about to get.
That Friday, word started on Facebook that an old friend of mine was missing. I hadn't even known that he was a volunteer firefighter for his town until I learned that he was missing. It was shortly after that I learned that not only was he missing but he had been identified as one of the fallen heroes.
It's taken me a while to get through what I am feeling, he was the kind of person that you just felt grateful to know. I keep saying that you couldn't have met a better person, a true living saint. It's been almost two months and I am praying for his family, I hope that the well of strength stays full for them.
I've been working on this post since the week after the explosion, my heart has been aching in such a tangible way that I have been foggy. I just couldn't understand what the point of this was, why did this world have to lose someone so special? It didn't, doesn't, make sense. My mind was going non-stop, I couldn't sleep, when I did I had awful dreams, and when I would wake up I felt like I was trapped in glue. Grief in an undeniably physical process and reminded me of all the self-care I had learned from years of volunteering.
1. On days when it was a choking struggle to breath, I remember to concentrate on simply breathing. Sometimes it's conscious interference from the mind that makes it hard to inhale and exhale.
2. When sleep wont come, try to rest the mind. Meditating is so hard when you're processing an issue, I understand that totally. A Thai massage teacher said a brilliant thing in class one day, she said that meditation is the practice of sitting with your thoughts. When you feel like your mind is racing and you're not doing it right, don't give up. Because you are doing it right. Meditation is the practice, not the destination.
3. Talk about it, if that's what's right for you.
4. Don't talk about it, if that's what right for you.
5. Let it happen. Fighting whatever it is will only make it harder to let it go. Everyone has advice about how to handle stress, parenting, grief, divorce. None of those people know anything about your life. Don't listen to them, do what your body tells you. (Don't listen to them, but listen to me.)
I took some time off my volunteering this month, while I was processing. What I have learned from my friend's tragic death is that volunteers are so important. So, so important, they are the ones that are there when the storm comes and they are the ones that help to clean up the mess left behind. They ask for nothing and sometimes pay the ultimate price, because they understand the importance of helping others.