At work, it’s almost all we can talk about. All of us in there together, processing grief in these non-linear and different ways. The super-emotive ones, the shut-down ones. The criers in private, the non-criers, the empathetic criers. But the two things we all have in common is that we’re all Jews and we’re all mothers. And somehow, in the face of crisis — this crisis specifically — both feel equally relevant to me. How we relate to one another, how we relate to others outside this intimate circle, how we talk to to our kids, how our kids talk to us, how we understand one another, even if what we are experiencing seems impossibly different.
One of us mentioned that none of her Facebook friends commented in response to Pittsburgh: Why aren’t you acknowledging my tragedy? One of us mentioned that whenever her friends did, it felt inexplicably like a violation: Why are you co-opting my tragedy?
I dip my toe in slowly to tremendously tragic news events. It happens and people respond and react and, usually, I let information seep in over days, weeks. Its’ not necessarily intentional, but it happens that way every time. The bigger the impact, the longer it takes for me to feel it.
The massacre at a the synagogue happened just two days ago. It hasn’t fully seeped in and I haven’t sought information. But the very next morning after it happened, I was both an organizer and an attendee at a huge conference of Jewish educators, which began with song and then silence. And this afternoon, I was invited to sit and eat leftover lunch from that conference with my colleagues (who are really my friends) as we collectively processed and mourned and shared our fear and grief and anger and ideas about how to respond — both as people and as Jewish professionals.
I don’t feel ready at all to be fully in the middle of this. The seeping-in didn’t have any time at all to happen; the levee was breached prematurely. I know all of it. Their names. The brothers. The husband and wife. It was Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. I’m sitting in the middle of it all. And Halloween is coming and people are talking about birthday parties and donuts and the Red Sox and I want to be doing that, too.
But all of this. The proverbial flood gates are open. It happened before I was ready. But doesn’t it always, actually?