In Case of Tragedy

eiffel I’m reaching for that book again. It’s the one entitled In Case of Tragedy . . . Right Responses for Survivors. It’s the same one I reached for on 9/11, again when my brother shot and killed himself, again when 26 innocent children and adults were killed at an elementary school, and again . . . Anne LaMott says lots of tense religious people insist they have the right book. I don’t think they do. This is not because I disagree with all religious texts. It’s that I think the right responses aren’t found in one book. They’re found in many books, examples from great teachers and the most difficult – in quiet self-search and thoughtful, loving action. When the most personal tragedy occurred, I received the call 20 minutes before giving a going away party for my German exchange student. What did I do? I had the party anyway and didn’t tell the guests of the student. I didn’t want to take away the thoughtful good-bye to their friend. Afterwards, I crumbled. But the next day I had to go on – through grief I made difficult decisions. I searched for truths in poetry, religious texts and my soul to write the most difficult eulogy I’ve ever delivered. I moved on vowing to love more, to listen more, to help others more and to cherish this one life. I understood this was my responsibility as a survivor. We are all survivors. We’ve lived through countless tragedies and the time between them has become shorter. I’ve named some major tragedies but we can’t forget the global events that do not capture Americans’ attention; Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, the U.S. and too many more. There is suffering and killing everywhere. Yet everywhere tragedy exists, survivors live. And, each time it strikes we all need to move a little closer to one another and form a circle of love and hope. Our work is to hold the suffering. That’s all of us. The time is now. It’s the only response I know. I haven’t found that book.

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