I’m still sad about what happened in Connecticut last Friday. Little blips of sadness sneak in and surprise me throughout my day. They tap me on the shoulder – the way grief does. We can’t ever predict – not fully – how we’ll feel about the worst thing that can happen.
I was a fearful child. I worried, a lot. About big things and small… and yet, anything can feel enormous if there’s worry wrapped around it. At some point I decided that it was a good thing – because most of my worries never happened. So I must be doing something right. The trick was to worry about every possible bad thing, every worst scenario – and then it wouldn’t happen.
My youngest son has been making plans for the Zombie Apocalypse in case that’s what December 21, 2012 brings. It’s a game – I think. Except it’s also reassuring to feel like you’ve given it some thought. That you’ve worried about the right thing.
But no matter how much we worry, something unexpected, unfathomable sneaks in.
And then what?
Our local paper featured a story yesterday about a couple who lost their daughter to a car accident a few years ago. Apparently she was an inexperienced driver caught in bad weather. The kind of situation parents worry about. And yet, driving in bad weather is a situation most us have been in and gotten through and immediately move on, forgetting how remarkable it is that we made it through unscathed.
This couple’s worst fear happened. And they were devastated. Still are, years later. But they’re trying to make something good come out of their pain. And so, because they were a family who made music together, they work hard to ensure that love of music gets passed on. They give modest scholarships to students who want to pursue the art of making music. Modest because that’s all they can afford. But the scholarships go to kids to whom modest feels enormous.
I think art – in whatever form – can help us heal. We can make some kind of small something beautiful to balance out the dark.
Like Mr. O playing his cello in a war-torn city in the picture book The Cello of Mr. O. by Jane Culter. Or the picture book itself. And all the other books that fill us up and give us joy. But also help us plan for the worst by reading about characters who struggle and make it through somehow. The balance of joy and pain, light and dark is always teetering, tottering. Bad things will happen – but good will too. Maybe we imagine and worry about the worst – but then we can act in a way that is the best of the best. We need art and beauty in our lives so we can hope and imagine the good, not just worry about the bad.
Wishing you joy and peace and the best,
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK