When I received the call about my sister's death, I was working in my office. It's located at the end of a very large room that houses my entire team, about 30 people. The call center/order entry folks sit right outside my office and can see everything that I do because there are two, huge windows on the front facing wall.
I distinctly remember answering the phone and hearing my brother-in-law tell me the news. I know I shouted, "My sister?!!" and told him that I would have to call him back. Then, I must have blacked out, because my next memory is when the HR director asked me if I was strong enough to get off the floor and into a chair.
Apparently, several other people ran into my office and tried to help me, including Peggy, one of our recruiters. I don't remember seeing her and had no idea that she was even aware of my sister's passing.
Peggy stopped by yesterday to see if I was OK. She was very somber and sincere. After we talked for a couple of minutes, she told me that she wanted to share something very personal with me. A tragic incident that she had told no one else in the office.
Peggy's son was molested by a member of her immediate family two years ago, when he was only 7 years old. She talked about her grief and guilt as a mother, and her anger at everyone around her...including herself. She described her son's anguish and how they are still working through it together. Peggy told me that their lives would never be the same, and I understood.
This terrible, terrible thing has changed me.
I'm not laughing much anymore, though I know that I will again...someday. But that's a trivial issue. The significant change inside of me revolves around trust and security. Suddenly becoming aware of our delicate mortality. Realizing that truth is fleeting. And having to come to terms with the fact that I cannot move mountains, I am not in control, and really really wanting something with all of my heart does not change the course of life.
I haven't written much about a horrible accident I witnessed when a little 2 year old boy ran out into the middle of the street. He was run over and didn't make it. As I stood on the side of the road and watched people try to resuscitate him, I dropped to my knees and tried to bargain with God. "Please," I prayed. "Take my house, take my cats, take everything I own. Please let this little boy live. Let this little boy live, God." My prayers didn't make a hoot of a difference, despite my desperate sincerity. I left the scene feeling powerless, worthless, temporary, and unimportant.
All of those feelings have come back and keep hitting me in waves. There was nothing I could do, nothing that I could bargain with to keep my sister alive. My pain, my tears, and my screaming won't bring her back. My accusations to God that life isn't fair go unheeded. My anger that it's wrong-wrong-wrong to put such a strong sense of justice inside humans when these terrible things happen all of the time....changes absolutely nothing.
And that damn song, "All We Are Is Dust In The Wind," keeps playing over and over in my mind, like when a needle is stuck on a record album. Reminding me. Reminding me. Reminding me.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.