There is something to be said for losing everything. That's not to say it's fun. That's not to say I recommend it. But what I will say is, like everything else in life, there is much to be learned from no longer having resources which are easily accessed and dispensed.
For many years of my life I did not lack for anything. There was always an abundance of food in the cupboards. There was always a car or two or three or four in the driveway. There were always more clothes than my closet could hold. There was always a house to live in. There were things to do, places to go, and people to see. My life was busy and full of things. And when I would see or hear about somebody who didn't have many things, I would feel sorry for him or her, and say a prayer for them - and sometimes even throw a buck or two their way.
I used to tell myself and others that I would be fine without the things I had, that they were blessings and I appreciated them, but if I lost them I would still be okay. But to be honest, in a deeper part of me, I would pray that I would never have to actually find out if I would truly be okay - because I enjoyed having my things. The reality was, I could not imagine my life without conveniences and possessions.
Then, in a matter of literally a few weeks, I lost pretty much everything. I fled from my home taking my car, a few clothes in a suitcase, and my daughter. We were homeless for nine months, and, at first, I discovered I really wasn't okay. I quickly had to learn how to ask for, and accept, help from other people who were sometimes nice and sometimes not. That humiliated me. I had to watch my spending closely - and make judgments about whether I should purchase gas so I could get to work, or food so we could eat. Or maybe purchase food for my daughter and a little gas.
I had to work with the few outfits I had with me, and creatively sort them and change them around so it looked like I was wearing different clothes every day when I went to work. I slept on couches, and tried to make myself invisible as we imposed on friends to take us in, and give us a place to stay. For the first time in my life, bad tires on my car appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle - and I learned you could purchase them used.
It was challenging, scary, and depressing. But at the same time, it was enlightening, empowering and freeing. I learned I could make decisions in spite of enormous mental pressure. I learned I didn't need a closet full of clothes. I learned it is much easier to live a life free of the responsibilities that come with too many possessions, commitments and things. I learned even though I could not imagine a day would come when I would be thankful for all my losses, the day did come and I can give thanks.
I learned it is okay to need other people. I learned that truly the darkest time of day comes right before the dawn, and that applies to life as well as time. I learned that I am a far stronger woman than I ever gave myself credit for. I learned that the things that scared me most were things I could conquer. I learned how important it is not to judge others for their situations, and that simply throwing money at a person who is hurting and in need is, quite frequently, not the thing they need the most.
Losing everything is not an experience I would wish on anyone, but I don't regret that it happened to me.
When my sister was 39 years old, she died.
It was an unexpected, life-shattering event that hit me hard enough to take my breath away for months. For three long years I walked around in a fog, faking emotions I couldn't feel.
Within a few short days of her death, my family gathered - my parents, siblings, nephews and cousins - trying to comprehend the incomprehensible and face the inevitable funeral.
I remember the sharp, aching hurt in my heart that just wouldn't go away, and the tears that flowed as we all got together. Nobody knew the proper way to act, the correct things to say. It freaking HURT. I couldn't handle the pain of the moment. The idea of continuing my life without Deb to talk to, to laugh with, and to help me see that I wasn't all that bad of a person felt absolutely unbearable.
How could I possibly do it?
And then there was the battle to understand why. Why did it have to happen? Why was I going through that? Why? Why? Why?
As those events unfolded and I struggled to wrap my mind around all of it, I realized that I would never wish that kind of pain on anyone, not even my worst enemy.
I cannot fathom the kind of hatefulness that drives anyone to take the life of another human being. My heart aches for the families of the victims in Florida this week, and the families of every other life that has been unexpectedly taken. I know what they are going through. They are struggling to make sense of what has happened. They are trying to figure out how to live lives that will never be the same again. They are wondering if anything will ever fill that void in their hearts.
And I feel sickened by every single social media comment that attempts to politicize or capitalize on these events. We can't be so eager to prove a point that we can coldly make memes and trendy posts about the "50 victims", can we? That descriptor is so cold and unfeeling, it allows us to ignore the fact that those people had lives, names, hopes, dreams, families, and futures. And they leave behind a significant number of people who will be walking around in a fog for a long time to come, wishing it was all a mistake or nightmare and that they would wake up and find it wasn't true.
My heart aches for all of them, and I hope friends and followers of the Torch, and everyone else, would stand up and attempt to stop ANYONE who tries to capitalize on the lives of these human beings.