Behind the smile…

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

I read this recently, and it dredged up many mixed feelings for me. I hate when people say “it happened for a reason.” No, a lot of crappy thing happen for no reason other than that’s the way life works. Deaths, accidents, and disease are all built into our lives. There is no avoiding one of these instances, and live long enough, all three will visit you. Inevitably.

When these grim reminders of life visit you, it is necessary to grieve. You will find those around you – close or acquaintances – will struggle with how to reach you. Many will stress that just saying “sorry” is hollow and insufficient. But that’s just not true. The best thing is to reach out to someone who is suffering through a death, accident, or disease.

I heard a story, which I will attempt to re-tell here. There was a little girl whose friend in her class died. She was distraught, and wanted to visit her friend’s parents. Her mother wasn’t keen to intrude on the family’s grief, and wasn’t sure that her 7-year-old would help. But she gave her daughter permission to visit. The daughter walked to her friend’s house with her mother, and they were invited in and offered a drink. The mothers sat together and drank coffee, saying little. The daughter found her friend’s father sitting in the living room, doing nothing. She climbed into his lap and said nothing. She just cried. She just sat in his lap and cried with him. It was all she could think to do. It was all she could do.

I know when my father died, had someone come over to cry with me, it would have be amazing, uncomfortable, touching, odd, and perfect. Others can’t take your pain, can’t say something to ease the grief, can’t do anything to make you feel better. You have to figure out for yourself how to carry on your life, taking this burden with you. But having someone sit with you does help. Just knowing someone is there is all. Your life will never be as it was, but you will find away to fit the shattered pieces back together again – just not in the same way, and now with a lot of cracks that may give way again and more easily in future, if stressed.

The pain cannot be fixed. But your smile may someday light up your face again, and your life will continue, but look a whole lot different than you ever imagined. I just hope you will have someone who cares enough to come and cry with you.


No Fear

En route to the Eurostar on Sunday, catching it in St Pancras to come home, and we stopped in King’s Cross for the obligatory Platform 9 ¾ photos, then for lunch. While ordering our meal, we were ordered quite calmly to evacuate. Got me a little nervous thinking I may have brought my kids into harm’s way… And then, standing at the exit waiting to get out, thinking it was the perfect location to set off one’s suicide vest.
Naturally, forgot my purse in the restaurant, so found a bench a long way from any blast zone, and made the kids wait for me there with Granny as I ran back into the building. As I ran, all I could think was all our documents were in there, and was I running into danger. Would it have been worth it? I also ran through some scenarios in my head – worst case, we miss our train and have to figure out how to get our identity papers back. But actually, worst case is I could have left my kids motherless, yet I never had that thought go through my head.

Got to the station entry. It was like nothing ever happened. People milling around inside again. People sitting down to their meals. Shop-front barricades back up, coffee shop still steaming milk. Did it really happen? Was I imagining it? Rumour has it, someone with a backpack on went running into the station faster than was ‘normal’ and the cameras picked it up, triggering the alert.
Found my purse. Ran back to hug the kids.

Float like a butterfly!
Come on, we’re boarding!

The kids were a little nervous, quite confused, but took it all in their stride. They even puzzled over the fact that the person making the announcement was so calm, and thought that strange. In the meantime, no way I wanted to re-enter King’s Cross. Nevertheless, funny how one settles back down into the status quo.