I remember thinking after 9/11 that the flags might as well never fly at full-staff again because our country just felt too broken and we should never stop mourning what happened that terrible fall day.
But, eventually, we did move on. Flags flew high and babies were born and celebrations were thrown and happy times were had. Throughout all of that the Virginia Tech massacre took place, and then the shootings in Aurora and Tucson, and countless other man-made tragedies. Yet, still, life went back to normal. Faster, it seemed, with each senseless act.
Like every parent, the Newtown tragedy shook me to the core. It was weeks before I stopped crying daily; feeling the need to soak up every article about the victims I could find, as if suffering through them was somehow the price I had to pay for not being directly impacted by the gunman.
And this week, I added watching a marathon to the growing list of places I’ll think twice about taking my children. Another tragedy to explain to them, when I still can’t wrap my head around it myself. More graphic photographs to cringe at, more stories to get lost in and more parents to empathize with. Another day to be selfishly grateful that it wasn’t my family affected, and to entertain the thought of building a bubble and never letting any of my loved ones out of my sight.
But less than two days later and, somehow, we’re already back to normal around here. The flags are already at full-staff.
Yesterday, I found myself snapping at the kids, wanting to rush through bedtime instead of savoring it and ordering pizza for dinner because I just didn’t feel like cooking. A third grader was killed innocently cheering on marathon runners, and here I was rolling my eyes at my third grader because she wouldn’t go to bed and I just wanted some alone time at the end of a long day. How could I?
I miss that feeling I had, over a decade ago, that life wouldn’t ever return to normal in a world where something so horrific could happen. That it wasn’t normal, it would never be normal and I would never, ever be able to move past it.
The place I am now, where I can’t even hold on to that gratefulness and perspective for a mere few days? That’s a far scarier place to be.