"Why? Because some people are just terrible human beings, and terrible human beings do terrible things. If you're racking your brain trying to understand it, it just means you're not one of those terrible people."
And there's no use in trying to understand because you never will. This kind of Hell wakes you up to a reality you never thought you'd experience. You also realize that as much as there is evil, there is also good. Humanity shines through at those moments. Not from everyone, but just enough that it helps you keep the faith.
I'm trying not to read too much about yesterday but I have seen a few things. I'm seeing people speak of "closure", "relief" and even, "happy it's all come to an end". Hmm. I can say that I don't feel any of those and though I won't say names, not one survivor I've spoken to since yesterday seems to feel those things. Not that people aren't happy he was found guilty, but what really were the changes he would be found innocent? Some might feel full relief, Who knows. I certainly don't speak for everyone but will speak to my own experience and for those who are feeling some of the same things. What people need to remember is that it's not suddenly "over" now and it won't be just because he gets sentenced. Is there such a thing as having closure? Do you have closure when someone you love dies? Do you wake up one day and all of sudden feel it's resolved itself? When you got through an illness like cancer, do you feel "fixed" or do you continue to have that fear somewhere deep in your mind?
Tragic events change us (many times, in great ways), they get deep into our souls, and they make us more aware of so many things. But, they never fully go away. That's not to say it doesn't get easier or that it's all bad. It's not. The good parts stay with us. The love others show us, the bonds we establish because of them, the things we learn about ourselves through the process. But, the pain is still there too. It will lessen. But, sometimes it's raw and it can hit even on the brightest days. Many people thought that after the one year anniversary, there would be a sort of "closure". Hell, I even sort of hoped there would be in some way. Wrong. It did get easier than it had been for those 12 months. There was something about getting through another April 15 and another marathon safely that made it easier to push forward. Two years… most people (at least that I know) are definitely doing a lot better, living their "new normal", finding happiness, peace and continuing to move forward in the most positive and beautiful ways. But, sometimes, it's still raw.
When you lose a loved one, you still remember and have that sadness on their birthday, the day of their death, holidays or maybe it's when you hear a song that reminds you of them, no matter how long it's been. When you have something like cancer, you may be free of it for a year or two years or longer and then you have the smallest thing that makes you worry it's come back, even if it hasn't. In those moments, you feel it all again as if it just happened. Yesterday, I felt emotional. I felt sick to my stomach and I felt a sort of weird, surreal feeling that carried with me through today. I let it be. I didn't let it consume me and I also didn't push it away. It's still raw. I can still close my eyes and picture everything I saw, feel everything I felt. I don't ever let myself do that on purpose but sometimes, like yesterday, it just comes. And it will. I accept that and just refocus my energy somewhere positive.
So, I just ask that people remember, there is no "end" to this. An obvious "guilty" verdict doesn't fix anything or change anything that happened. There may be some relief for people, there may be some feelings that justice was served, because it was. But, it doesn't bring back Martin, Krystle, Lingzi, or Sean. It doesn't bring back limbs or erase injuries people are still dealing with both physically and emotionally. It doesn't stop nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety or reactions to simple things such as fireworks or crowds. Time, love and compassion from loved ones and from communities will help all of those things, but two years is not a lot of time. What do we really have in life if we don't have each other to lean on and to support each other through the good and the bad? What are we living for anyway? I, for one, want to look back and remember all of the people I was there for when they needed me, who I gave a smile or a kind word to, whether they were a friend or a complete stranger. I want to remember the wonderful people I've met along this journey of life and what each of them brings to make my time here a little better, a little more beautiful.
To all of the survivors, you inspire me every day with your strength, your drive to move forward, and in how you all live your truth, both the positive and the hard days. To those, I've become close with, I will forever be grateful for you and your presence in my life and I look forward to continued friendships that have transpired over the last two years.
To all of those who have reached out to me at any point in these last two years with a kind word or gesture, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I know not everyone will agree. I know many of you may just want it over and to stop hearing about it and so, I have learned who I can and can't talk to about it. I've learned a lot about who "my people" really are. I've learned that those people out there who can be inconsiderate about it may just not be able to deal with it for whatever reason. But, it's all okay. As one of my favorite quotes says, "Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need to, it's not for them."
I just looked back to the first time I wrote about this all, just a week after the bombings. I talked about being numb that whole first 4 days and how I felt nothing. It was what my body needed at the time. I used to get frustrated at the emotion, the anxiety, and even the numbness. I didn't want to feel it all. I didn't want to keep breaking down or shaking and I also didn't want to hold it all inside and feel like it was going to make me explode (yes, I just said that). Now, I let myself feel whatever I need to. One day, I just realized that I had to, that I couldn't move on if I pushed it away. I had to deal with it all and face it, no matter how difficult. I had to let my body react the way it needed to in order to heal, in order to get out of that darkness.
For days, I thought about it, but not all consuming. I worked, I had time with friends, I talked with more people about it who had been there, I slept (seriously, I sleep way too much and my healthcare people better figure it out soon). I went for a run twice to prepare for the 5k Sat (which I have NOT prepared for at all since I've been so sick for over a month) and that helped, first with a survivor friend and then alone.
So, today was the day. I woke up sick to my stomach thinking about it. I went to the gym to work it all out which in hindsight was a bad idea considering I've pushed myself too much these last few days and was completely drained already. But, it helped me clear my head. I then headed to a therapy appointment which was just good timing. Sometimes I think of stopping it. I don't necessarily feel I need it much anymore, but I feel like I still don't know what all of this looks like and how it will play out so I keep her for those times I need a little help navigating. And we actually have a lot of laughs. Many of you know this about me, but I tend to like to crack jokes and make things funny, so why wouldn't I do that in a therapy session? I think she gets a kick out of me. :)
Anyway, I sat there and talked about everything this last week, the emotion, not feeling well, etc. I felt tears fill the backs of my eyes that weren't coming out and I talked about it all in a matter of fact way but also sometimes reflective. Then, as is typical, all of the emotion came right at the end, just flooding out as I realized I was about to leave her to go home for my interview.
I made my way home and tried to keep myself busy for a bit until he came and crashed from exhaustion for an hour. At about 2:45 (he was coming at 3), I started to break down. I realized the irony of the time of day… these things are never lost on me. As I heard a knock at the door, I made my way to grab some tissues and take a few breathes before answering the door. Two men came. They were very nice and wanted me to feel comfortable. I decided to sit on the couch simply because 1) I didn't want my leg to start shaking and frustrate me and 2) I like to pull my legs up against me for comfort and wanted to feel as safe and comfortable as possible. As I started to go over my account of the day, I felt my body shaking ever so slightly and my voice breaking. Tears came and flooded my eyes. There were times when I told them things I saw that I had to stop and hold my arms over my face for a minute before I could continue. I had worried that I would shut down and my body would hold everything in. I didn't know which I'd rather, but I realize now that I wanted to feel it all. It's a relief rather than something still sitting inside of you after you're done saying it all.
They were very patient and it didn't take long. They explained why they needed to talk to me, asked if I had any questions or anything else to share and assured me that even with a lot of pieces I feel I'm unable to remember, that what I shared was enough. Then, I think more to not leave me there a mess, they talked about my photography and we even had a few laughs.
I feel relieved, like another piece of the puzzle is done. Someone asked me if I wanted to talk to them. I wasn't sure. Part of me felt like I was there, everyone knows I was there, and it simply didn't matter to be on any list or have them know. But, the other side of me spent a long time feeling like I didn't matter, that I didn't belong with the rest of the community. It was a mind fuck and it still sits with me sometimes. This was sort of validating in a way, to know that it's acknowledged and should anything come up in the future that I would need to be on that "list" for, I now am.
Now, as I sit here, I realize I'm more than ready to face tomorrow. I will spend the day with people I've come to call friends and family who I will forever be connected to in the most tragic yet beautiful way. I will enjoy the beautiful weather, the events we have planned to go to and just being together with an amazing group of people. We will most certainly cry, we will definitely laugh and in the end, we will have gotten through another anniversary stronger than ever.