I was talking to a young lady today. Despite her age, and even despite her job in security, she is a young lady. She is young in that she has a mannerism about her that suggests that difficulties or trials and tribulations haven’t ultimately been strong enough to settle her. I believe maturity isn’t so much about your age; it is instead, about experience about who and what you are when the chips are down; who you become after the fact. I don’t know this young lady’s story, she could honestly be someone who has struggled her whole life and instead has simply chosen to see the world in a light and beautiful way. In essence to do exactly what I try to do and ignore it.
She was mentioning to me how much easier it would be for people if they just knew why something happened. I believe that she was referring to the mass killing of the children at the elementary school. And I wondered at that comment. The press has indicated that the police don’t yet know why that person killed all those children; and while they have hinted at reasons there has been no concrete proof to unquestionably understand that killer. But why does she think the answer to why will bring closure? Maybe she simply is young.
When I was eighteen years old, I was madly in love for the first time. You know, that first true love. It is a fairy tale experience in that you have no other experience, no other heartache to compare it to. You see your prince charming through rose-colored classes. My James was my rose-colored man. He was older, a military man, and working two jobs in order to put himself through school. He was kind, wonderful, and most of all thought that I hung the moon. To an impressionable eighteen year old that is a weighty and heady feeling. The relationship wasn’t perfect, but what I thought at the time was a big deal, would turn out to be as ridiculous as the rest of this life.
My James was murdered one week before my birthday. While I didn’t care what the reason was when I first heard the news, I would eventually learn it. I would learn that a kid, upset about being fired, would steal a gun from his Uncle, demand that a sixty year old Vietnam Vet go into a freezer, something the former solider simply could not handle after the war, and that in a bid to settle everyone down and help the Vet, my James would be tied up with a loaded gun pointed at his head without the safety on. The murderer, the kid, probably really didn’t mean to pull that trigger. He probably didn’t really mean to kill someone. He probably wasn’t even thinking of all the lives he would change in that single second. He probably didn’t care that my life would forever be changed by the reasons he did what he did.
I know the reason that James is dead. Yet, it doesn’t change anything. He is still dead. Whatever my life would have been was forever altered that day. I can’t get it back because I can understand the ‘reasons’. Those reasons can’t turn back time so that I could be there that night. Those reasons can’t stop the horrific reality I faced those next weeks, months, even years. That reason changed me more than any other great event in my life. It has defined me to this day. And whether I had ever understood why or not, wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Humans desire closure. They think that closure is something that will bring them peace. That will settle them inside their heart so they can move on. However, what I hope to God my children never have to learn is that sometimes peace isn’t attainable. Those things that define us, don’t necessarily come with any closure. They simply are. You can’t close the book on certain things, nor can you move on. The pain doesn’t lessen, it just changes as the days change. It doesn’t become less, it is simply overpowered by greater emotions. The pain of losing great love, or even losing a child, will never be accompanied by peace. It is beyond our abilities.
I wish with all my heart that I could give James’ mother closure. I wish I could find a way to magically wave a wand and make the realities of this world go away, so for one brief moment she may forget that she lost in a way the very universe we live in rebels against. A mother should never lose a child. It should be impossible, improbable; it should be a sin against all that we hold dear. Ask a mother who has lost a child if she can find forgiveness, or even closure. It simply doesn’t exist.
So rather than everyone looking around for answers, maybe instead we should be focused on the survivors. Those who will never feel justice has been served, who know that no matter how much gun control is brought into law, they will never be released from the horror they must now stand. There are no answers, there are no reasons; and while it is human nature to look for one, the truth of the matter is that healing isn’t about accepting something, so much as learning to live in the pain and survive. Many don’t survive; and even when they live they don’t forgive. I believe that humans look for answers because it is our natural tendency to forgive and wish to forget. And yet, if you have lived long you know there are things in this world you simply can’t forgive. You can’t forgive the universe, you can’t forgive that kid with the gun, and you can’t forgive yourself. Closure is not forgiveness; and until you accept that closure is simply an illusion and instead concentrate of living with the pain, the darkness will never be lit.
Closure is a young man’s game. An elder, and I am not talking age, will know that this life is brutal. This life is the hell that is described to small children to get them to behave. This life has so few moments of absolute beauty that when we find one we must hold on with all our might. This life is not a gift, but a journey. And the best anyone of us can do is put one foot in front of another, and breathe. Breathe in…breathe out.