My first post in this blog was an extended, "about me" but for those of you who don't know me, the sentence above is another important fact. When I hear that phrase I don't necessarily think good things... my first thought is not, "strength." While I don't think it is something I have developed, it has always been true, of even my tiniest self, I do think this trait has changed as I've lived.
In 2007, my beautiful, gracious, open-minded, non-judgmental mother, passed away.
|Paula Hunnicutt-Rapczynski 1959-2007|
My world was frozen in time but everything around me rushed on, and it was completely surreal and nauseating. Speaking, even formulating complete thoughts was a struggle. Looking back, it's hard to develop a mental timeline of events after I was told, because I was in a wind tunnel and wearing blinders.
Some things I do remember: My sweet stepmom holding my hand and walking me to bed the first night-- moving from my spot on the couch may not have occurred to me, otherwise. My amazing friend Kaitlin accepting the news in a phone call and agreeing without hesitation to notify the rest of my friends--I couldn't bare to have that conversation again. My blessing of a dad, taking me shopping for a funeral dress... and underwear-- I hadn't been home to pack. My wonderful friend, Brittany showing up at my parents house in what seemed like 30 seconds... and taking me to get ice cream-- we didn't know what else to do. My precious baby brother, then 2, saying, "it's okay, Shayla"--leaking life and light into my darkest moment.
Last night, I recounted these events with my darling, Patrick. He has not dealt with the loss of a loved one, and if there was anything I could possibly do in this world to keep it that way, I would go to the end of the earth to do it. My best attempt to explain a tragic loss to him was something like this:
Life becomes incredibly long, and impossibly short all at once.
I think about the number of years I will live without my mama and the thought leaves me gasping for air... I think about how much can be snatched from me at any moment, and my years feel so few... This life feels short, and sitting still seems impossible.
This world is so filled with tragedy, overflowing with heartache and loss. After seeing it first hand, every story I hear nicks the wound my experience inflicted, and I know, the wound will never heal.
Somehow, those nicks are the blessing... the good that has come of this thing that still feels so bad. Those nicks are a new, recreated empathy in my heart. Every story of loss reminds me, not only of the pain, but also that I'm still standing... that I made it out of the wind tunnel because something pulled me through. That something was my sweet stepmom, my amazing, wonderful friends, my blessing of a dad, and my precious baby brother... and that is just to name a few of the gifts in my life, a fraction of the love I am surrounded by. I am okay, because there is something in this world for me to live for... someone in this world that felt enough of my pain, to reach out to me and help me defrost my reality.
Let's allow ourselves to feel the pain of those who have lost someone they love, in Paris, or anywhere else in the world. Let's find empathy. Let's show love.