Like you, I watch the news with a combination of horror and a morbid desire for more – more updates, more snippets of information, more awful tales. And the reality of how harrowing it is doesn’t feel much like it at first, safe and sound a hundred miles away. “Oh that’s awful” I think, but in the way you might say something when your mind knows something terrible has happened but your heart hasn’t yet felt it.
And so, I go about my day typing articles, marketing, marketing, marketing. Nothing important, nothing life-threatening or life-saving. And then suddenly, one tweet, one random update on the situation, and there. There it is. My heart has caught up to join everyone else’s.
I’ve always been this way, taking a few hours or days to really feel something. And when it comes I sit quietly and think “oh. This is why perfect strangers are crying all these miles away”. And so I sit in the toilet cubicle at work for just a moment longer and – bizarrely (for I haven’t felt that I believed in or even wanted a two-way conversation with God in at least 15 years), – I feel a desire to say a prayer.
I ask whatever deity there might be to let its presence be known to the poor souls involved, and I feel my eyes filling up with tears at the thought of my little brother calling me to say he and his girlfriend are putting towels under the door and “staying put” like they’ve been told to, and then – nothing. No more.
Of course, I’d hate for you to think that I’m just focussing on my own feelings right now when so many lives have changed beyond repair. I promise you that’s not the case. I ought to focus on the circumstances of these things, the politics of it all. What should be done and what wasn’t done and what we can possibly to do support the victims of these tragedies, and how we ought to lean on our government now.
I could write about how appalled I am that Theresa May didn’t visit the residents and family members (I get it – she’s intimidated, as anyone would be having ignored it or had their MPs voting against legislation that might have prevented it – but no Prime Minister should be shying away from… well – showing up.) I could point you in the direction of Sam Webb’s article in the Guardian (in fact, while we’re here, why not?). But I’ve read so much over the last few days and devoured so many news articles and tweets and opinions that I feel like I don’t want to contribute anymore to the discussion than I have in the paragraphs above.
Instead, I feel an extra squeeze of gratitude when I see my friend waving to me in the car park, and when I look across the sofa to my parents I count my lucky stars to have them. I fall asleep with my hand on Lee’s back, and I tell my brothers that I love them over and over again in my mind.
I just focus on loving the people I love and feel my heart rise into my throat at the thought of there being so many people who are loving their loved ones with no-where for that love to go.
Because that’s what grief is, isn’t it? Love with nowhere to go?