By: Tricia Larimer
Something changed inside me this week. The pace of my heart, my soul, my breath changed. I drove by a house I drive by all the time. The house on the corner with the basketball goal and the large smoker sitting out front. One where you don’t know the people but you have an idea. This family must be the life of the party. This dad has the best hang outs. I bet they have cute kids and I would love to be invited over. This drive was different. I couldn’t get through because there were a lot of flashing lights in front of the house. Neighbors standing in the yard and a large police presence. I get home and check Facebook. There has been a death. It’s a painful situation. I see a few friends who know the family with posts of heartbreak and I pray for them. I imagine the family’s life will forever be changed. Darkness has crept in their lives. I feel for them.
The next morning I’m up bright and early to start delivering kids to locations and grab groceries. It’s a normal day birds are chirping, the sky is a beautiful pink and morning blue. I’m driving down the road and it hits me. I might have to take a different path but as I approach it’s like a trip back in time. The yellow tape is gone, the cars have all left. The neighbors are in their houses drinking their coffee in their robes. Kids are riding bikes and the house on the corner with the smoker and the basketball goal is beautiful and shiny.
I don’t know why this has affected me so profoundly. Maybe it’s because someone died in a motorcycle accident last night and I’ll have to drive past that place today. There will probably not be a hint of the accident left. All the debris swept, vehicles moved and another Dad gone the day before Father’s Day. I drive across a train track where a teenager was killed a few months ago. Last weekend I was out of town when a young man died on his way to church. I drove past the spot around 12:30am the next morning and had no idea that it was the spot a mom’s life changed for the worst..forever.
It just feels suffocating if I think about it too much. If I sit here and think I can feel the tightness creep in my chest. I don’t know any of these families. I don’t know how to reach out and help them or love them. I don’t have an address to send a card. Just like all the spots I drive by where people’s lives have been damaged, that look totally normal, I also walk by damaged people who look great. There are people I stand in line behind who might have experienced the worst day of their life earlier that week. They are all cleaned up and presentable. No one who didn’t know would know.
This has to be the strangest part of the human experience. The quick cleaning up of our messes. The hide it and deal with it mentality. I have a friend whose marriage is on the rocks every other week. The second she mentions it on Facebook the “don’t air your dirty laundry” comments start rolling in. Why can’t she? Why did we stop wearing black for mourning? Is it better for the person in mourning to blend in or is it better for us to be able to drive by the house with the basketball goal and large smoker and not have to realize, the people in there are broken?