When Mr. G was 18, he got shot in the face. He was having an argument with his then girlfriend and for some reason, a block or so before they reached her house, he pulled over at the curb. As they continued to argue, a 14 year old kid walked up and said something through the drivers side window. Mr. G remembers feeling irritation due to the argument and rolled the window down and said, "what?" in a short tone. The kid pulled out a gun and shot him.
The thing that I would occasionally marvel at over the years of our dating was the fact that this event didn't seem to change Mr. G. He was open, trusting, comfortable with strangers even at the window of a car. I even remember commenting on this to Mr. G a few times. I always had to explain myself, he never quite understood why I found this so amazing.
"But didn't that frighten you? Make you want to be more cautious?", I would say.
"why would it?" he would calmly answer.
Even not having lived through that event, or even having lived through it as someone who knew Mr. G then, I knew an event like that would put a permanent change in me.
Somewhat like the death of babies did.
Now, I should qualify this story with a little known fact. Losing M did change Mr. G. He is now a bit slower to warm up, more cautious with friends and not in general, not as friendly, outgoing, open, trusting. But this change is very subtle, and most likely noticeable only to a select few. Getting shot at 18 couldn't do what losing M at 32 did.
My change is more severe and obvious. Its why I've spent way to much time over the past 5 years, and the certainly the past 1 1/2 years bemoaning my lost self, wishing her back with childlike fervor. Gone, gone, gone she is.
I was never open, trusting, unguarded the way Mr. G was and is. I was sweeter, less bitter, less angry, more hopeful, and way more tough. Now, in some ways to use the word tough and myself in the same sentence is laughable. Truly, I've never been tough, but really more tender. But, I don't think in all my life before, I ever felt as fragile as I have since December 15th, 2005. It rises and falls, sometimes feeling softer and harder.
It is one of the things I hate about this journey. The feeling that I cannot, will not be able to cope with another very bad thing. And I don't just mean the obvious and extremely feared very bad thing (I will have to do a whole post on that thing itself!) but I also mean the regular stuff. Like, my mom dying. If all happens as it should, she will die before me. I will join the ranks of adults everywhere who have already lost parents. But, I'm scared I won't cope well. Or I even think, what if something terrible happens to my siblings? I don't just mean death, I mean just something, anything bad.
I often feel I was born with a certain amount of resilience and I already used up my allotment. My daughter hasn't been sick too much (knock on wood! MUST knock on wood you know!) but when she has, I always feel this moment during her not feeling well of constriction, I can't breathe. My mind takes me places.....I can hardly bear my child having even a seasonal cold. I cover this, of course. I soothe, take temperatures, give medicine, hugs, snuggles, sit up at night with her, but my mind goes somewhere else. Can I cope? Can I survive this bump in my normal life. I feel unprepared, unqualified.....
I often hear people talk of bad events making them stronger. I'm glad for them, but that has not been my experience. My fragility is one of the lasting impacts of my losses, one on a list of "THINGS I'M STILL WORKING ON". The problem with this list is there seems to be no answer sheet at the back of the book. I fear that the things on this list are lifelong.