How do you prepare for this?

I got a text on Monday to say that something ‘tragic’ had happened and that an ‘urgent’ meeting was called to talk about it…but the meeting was 26 hours away.

26 hours of wondering who had died.

26 hours of wondering who had been murdered or committed suicide.

26 hours of wondering how on earth to prepare for a tragedy.

Tragedy is one of those things that strikes—you know, the kind of thing that takes you unawares and comes out of nowhere- a midnight phonecall,  being called into the office at school or someone coming to wherever you are to tell you something has happened. The scene from Saving Private Ryan comes to mind—you know the one where the officers come tell Mrs. Ryan that three of her four sons have been killed in action? Tragedy takes you as you are and shows no mercy. You might be in your pajamas or in a three piece suit. It does not matter what you are wearing because it will always be inappropriate. It does not matter what you were doing, it will be cast aside. That moment will always be the moment that everything changed. Before, and after.

How do you prepare for that moment? What do you wear, what do you do, where do you go? Preparing for the meeting last night I racked my brain. Do I bother to dress nicely (black for mourning?) or just go as I am. Is make-up appropriate? Is anything? What won’t I be able to do tomorrow? What won’t I be able to do ever again? What would I know in ten hours…and then 8 hours…and then 4 hours..and then 2 hours… that would change everything? It was a guillotine waiting to fall, a monster waiting to pounce, a sentence waiting to be given.

I tucked my children into bed wondering what I was going to have to tell them in the morning. I drank in the innocence of their faces, of the way they looked before tragedy touched their innocence, and changed it. Before, and after. Who were they going to have to say goodbye to? How was I going to teach them how? Who would we be in the morning?

I wore my jeans, comfy t-shirt, jumper. Waterproof mascara. I wore my numbness, my nerves, my confusion. I shook with tension. I walked in a daze. I held my husband’s hand. I thought about all the night’s in history when my people sat waiting for word, sat huddled together through the long night waiting. I looked into the eyes of my friends, those who gathered with me to hear the words that would change everything, relieved to be with them, relieved that they were there, feeling their tension.

…and then it hit…and no-one is dead…but it is a tragedy…and everything was inappropriate (except the waterproof mascara).

I was inappropriately relieved that it wouldn’t touch my babies.

I don’t want to say what it was because, although the pain is mine to share, the story is not mine to tell. We will walk this road together, my family and my friends and I. We will love, and grieve, and forgive, and heal. Today we weep and rail and question and hurt. But we are together, and being together is everything.

We walk through a surreal fog, but with very real arms around us.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carolyn
    Sep 23, 2011 @ 21:13:31

    Hi Ari. Thank you for expressing so well, the heart of your people and your friends. We are praying for comfort and courage, hopes and dreams. Above all and in all, we worship a faithful God.



  2. Farley Briggs
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 00:33:07

    Thank you Arianne. You have such creativity in your expression. You are right that we are together-such an incredible feeling of cohesion and strength amongst the people that have shared in this. I have such confidence in the custodians of the church that lead us.



  3. Ali Trigg
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 22:19:44

    Beautifully written Ari. It’s nice to know that someone else feels the same way I do.



  4. Kaye
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 22:14:12

    Wow! Awesome – so heartfelt. Prayers for all.



  5. Sam Booyeah Blackeby
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 20:46:07

    Restoration through Grace and friendship. Bring that on.



  6. Rob Jenkins
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 16:59:01




  7. Cindy Lee
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 13:56:42

    you breathed life & words and gave a voice to my fogginess. Beautiful Ari xoxo



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