“It could never happen to me,” is a lie people tell themselves in order to put the most distance between themselves and what happened. Yet distance is not what’s needed when tragedy strikes. What’s needed is the bravery to close the gap by stepping right inside, square in the middle of someone’s pain. And just be with them in it. Which means feeling all of it too. Terrifying– I know– but imagine how much more terrified your loved one is. You at least get to go back to your normal life. This is their new normal– forever.
A few words from a thought-provoking piece by Angela Miller, published today at Still Standing Magazine.
I was incredibly lucky not to face the kind of devastating comments the author speaks of (“How did you let this happen?!!”). Instead, I heard the doctors who took care of Paul tell me several time « This is not your fault ». I heard these words coming from people close to me too. And they told me again and again I was still Paul’s mom, and that P. and I were good parents.
I still felt guilty and awful. Maybe because two police officers followed me from the very first moments after Paul’s cardiac arrest and for hours after that, never leaving us alone, even as we were receiving heartbreaking updates on Paul’s health. But most likely just because i was searching so hard for an answers, and needed to blame someone.
And even now that i have learned to live with the uncertainty that Paul’s death has left us with, even now that i have managed to keep my guilt reasonably in check, i still feel the distance between me and the others. I have dug this unbridgeable gap between me and them. I don’t blame them for it. But i still can’t cross it. I don’t know how to bridge the distance between their normal and mine, i can’t imagine i could be them, i could live their normal. I can’t imagine i could have a living and healthy baby. I can’t imagine having to just deal with the daily routines of a 14 month-old. I don’t even know what that is. And i can’t imagine the people around me having to deal with the reality of baby loss.
The reality of those who have living babies and their innocence still intact is so far removed from the reality of those of us living daily with our loss. How wouldn’t there be a distance?
Unlike Angela Miller in her piece, i don’t feel the need to ask people around me to find « the bravery to close the gap by stepping right inside, square in the middle of [my] pain ». Those who could already did. And i deeply appreciate, and benefited from, their courage. Now, i want to try, slowly, to believe i could be the one climbing through the ravine that keeps me so far removed from their normal… I know i’ll always have at least a foot dangling off the cliff, but perhaps i can learn to live a little closer to them, and stop thinking “It could never happen to me »…
For other posts around the theme of distance, visit