Today I woke up hungover from an emotional night. There was nothing in particular that sparked it...just the feeling of having been distracted so well of late that I'd neglected to feel all the emotions that were all there just below the surface. I had the day off work, which was good, because as it turned out I spent much of the day either teary or on the verge of tears. I'm not sure why I'm emotionally vulnerable (I don't believe it was just PMS at work), but I try not to fight those feelings when I have them; I see them as necessary to understanding why feeling good feels so, well, good.
Midday I left my house to run some errands, and took the back way down from where we live toward Dublin, where Target awaited me. On the way there I noticed a substantial memorial on the side of the frontage road that I'd never noticed before, and I made a mental note of that for the trip back.
The first thing I saw when I walked into Target was a little boy in tears, talking to his dad. The dad was being nice and listening to the boy, but I'm telling you it took every ounce of restraint in me to keep from kneeling down and scooping that boy into my arms for a big Mama hug. Never mind that I'm not his Mama. I was still feeling pretty raw myself, and I'm not sure if the instinct came from a desire to comfort the boy, or the simple thought: this little dude feels me. We could have a nice cry together :)
I restrained myself.
I don't believe I've ever wandered and browsed as professionally as I did today. I didn't have anywhere to be, and I was in just the mood to look at all the lookable things and take my time picking up what I needed, namely food and a few incidentals for Monkey. It was relaxing and probably just what my heart was seeking in that moment: solitude and peace--even the fluorescent-lit variety.
On the way home I found a place to pull off the road so I could pay my respects where I'd seen the memorial. This is not something I've ever done, though it wasn't the first time curiosity and sadness-for-the-unknown-loss have instructed the inclination, which I've heretofore ignored.
Today's New Activity: Pausing to Remember
What caught my eye about this memorial was the large photo collage. When I drove by I thought, 'this person was loved.' Of course any roadside memorial, by virtue of its existence, belongs to somebody who is survived by people who loved him or her. But this was a lot of love.
I was especially surprised to see that the teenager in the photos actually died three years ago. The cards, flowers, and photos seem to have been left recently, on the 3rd anniversary of her death. That made me simultaneously happy and sad for this girl--happy she was so loved that even teenagers (with their short attention spans) would put the effort forth to remember her after all that time, sad that she was plucked from their lives so soon, just shortly after her 17th birthday.
Some research revealed that the young woman, Sarah, died in a car being driven by a young man named Clark, her friend and co-worker. Witnesses said the car was seen racing another car shortly before the crash. Ugh. The driver had lost control and the car flipped onto its roof. Both teens were pronounced dead at the scene.
I found this story heartbreaking. Clark had just graduated from high school two months prior, and Sarah was about to start her senior year. It sickens me to think how tragic the seemingly mundane poor choices young people make can turn out to be. And when I think about these kids' parents....I can't even think about that for very long. As a mom, my biggest fear will likely always be to lose my child. I really don't know how people ever recover from that experience.
I guess what I really came away with today was the feeling that my own struggles, while significant to me, can sometimes pale in comparison to the pain others have suffered. At the same time, I also feel that my pain is connected to the pain of everyone else in this world, whether or not our lives meet. That's a lot of pain to bear for everyone involved, but it's also the promise that we are never alone, any of us.
And so, somehow, I found today uniquely beautiful.