This weekend I felt scattered and pensive. This tension arose from some unexpected personal news and the residual feelings of what happened in Boston over the week. Every time I turned on the television these images kept playing like a scratched record on a turntable: news that one brother died in a gunfire battle, another brother alive, captured, but unable to talk, lying in the same hospital building as those who were victimized by him, and the face of Sean, the MIT officer, whose Mona Lisa smile will never be seen again by his parents and siblings.
Closely following the barrage of news, tweets, Facebook updates of the Boston tragedy left me exposed in a way I do not understand. Much of my own life stayed the same, while another city shut down. I took my daughter to school, exchanged a few hello’s with other moms, returned home to my office where I wrote a post, had lunch with a friend, and laughed during dinner with my own family. In another corner, others were grieving, picking out caskets, a set of parents flying overseas to bury their only daughter, and mothers and fathers and siblings comforting those who lost limbs.
I know this is a part of life. This tug and pull between grief and moving forward and repeating the cycle again. I will never be comfortable with this dichotomy. These overwhelming unforeseen events pushed me to think of my own losses in the most unexpected way. My daughter loves Taco Bell, especially the bean burritos. We decided to make it a Taco Bell dinner night. I waited on the seats while my husband and daughter stood in line. My daughter ran to where I was seated and began to swivel in her chair. Her excitement about the tiny pleasures in life always give me pause.
Once we got our order, I unfolded the white wrapper that covered my burrito and reached for the hot sauce packets. At that point, tears streamed down my face. One of my father’s quirks was collecting Taco Bell hot sauce packets in a mason jar at home. He absolutely loved their hot sauce and would always gather a few handfuls like they were precious souvenirs. At this moment, I realized how much my life’s move forward since his passing, but how an unforeseen trigger can unleash grief.
My daughter and husband tried to comfort me, but for that single moment, inconsolable, I let the tears stream, wiped them away, and acknowledged how much I missed my father. And in the very next second, my daughter made a funny joke and I laughed.
Loss and love. On moving forward and going back. We learn to navigate the space between grief and happiness. Even if we stumble.