It’s not easy to watch the news on most nights. Tonight was no different. I watched the update on the shooting of the Congresswoman in Tuscon and an entire apartment building burn to the ground while the residents stood there, watching it happen. Some people, like congresswoman Giffords’ intern, move into immediate action toward the scene. Others go away and get help. And still others are in too much shock to do much of anything. It is not until tragedy happens in your own sight that you really know how you will respond. I can’t say I have witnessed a shooting, but I have been at the scene of accidents, a robbery at gun point and even a bad sports injury where the victim lost consciousness. I have seen what I do in a crisis situation. I am content with my response.
The truth is, after watching the news tonight I sat again and contemplated about my own life. I watched those who lost their homes to that fire talk about how they lost everything they had. No insurance, no chance of getting it back. In the blink of an eye… it was just gone. And no one can change that. One guy even talked about how he didn’t even take the time to grab his wallet because he was too busy worried about finding the cat. No identification, no money, no access to his accounts. Nothing. Just a body in jeans and a sweatshirt. That’s all he has left of his life. Thankfully, he has that.
No one can explain why these things happen to certain people and why others are the onlookers, rushing to their aid or running to get help, or watching in shock feeling helpless. We don’t choose these events. They choose us. I talk so much about choice because I believe there is a lot we choose and a lot we can change or affect. But the sad reality is that there are things in life we don’t have any control over. They just happen as they will and we move with them to accomodate. We carry on.
Some days I wonder when the next “non-choosable” event will happen in my life. I wonder what it will be. I know my mom didn’t choose this awful illness any more than she chose to have blue eyes when she was born. My friend didn’t choose to have a cancerous brain tumor. My uncle didn’t choose his heart disease.
And yet, through it all, we choose to laugh anyway, in spite of our non-choosables. It’s one of my mom’s best qualities.
I remember one day laughing with her while I was visiting. It was a good day. She seemed happy and content. I smiled at her at one point and told her she was silly today. She managed to somewhat understandably infer “Well, what choice do I really have?” And at that point I realized that even through the “stuff” that life gives us, the “stuff” we don’t choose… we have a choice how to react to it. My mom laughs. I can’t thank God enough for her ability to do so now since she has very little ability left to do anything else. Regardless, I think she navigates well. She grows stronger in my eyes every day. I respect her for that.
I pray hard for that laughter to continue.
I add the Congresswoman and the people who lost their homes to that list tonight.
I remind myself to choose my responses with my heart.
Life happens as it will.
Carry on. Navigate well. Pray hard.