paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk1I don’t know about you,
but I’m never sure what exactly to say
or do
when I hear that someone’s world has just been shattered
by loss,
or fear,
or pain,
or some completely senseless act of selfishness,

or by all of that
and more.

Usually, the first thing I want to do
is convince myself
that what happened didn’t really happen.

It can’t be true.

There must be another explanation.

Let’s please just change the channel
or open our eyes all together
on the count of three,
and watch the nightmares skitter away
under the bright light of day.

Obviously that only works
when the nightmare truly is just a nightmare,
– not a life –
but this sort of reprieve does,
at least,
allow my heart the extra few moments it needs
for reality to soak in more slowly.
Instead of drowning me
in a tidal wave
of truth.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk2Once I have come nose to nose with
what can no longer be denied though,
I sometimes feel badly
that I feel so badly
when I am
not even the one who’s been hurt
by the situation at hand.

Until I realize that,
although I may not be at the epicenter of the tragedy,
the shockwaves of pain
spread far
and the pangs of fear
and loss
are contagious
to those of us who are
and alive.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk3So, then I am left with my own feelings
as well as the much more intense,
and immediately important
plight of
the latest victims.

paris and pain - shorts and longs - julie rybarczyk4And I wonder
what can possibly be done to soothe any of us?

I’m not exactly sure.

But I do know that
I’m pretty certain
it’s probably not helpful
for people who are reeling from loss
to hear things like
at least it wasn’t worse
or buck up, you’ll feel better eventually
or this is only going to make you stronger
or here, let me try to fix this unfixable thing
for you.

I only know that what has helped me most
in my own shattered moments
is to hear
you’re loved
you’re brave
you’re not alone
here’s a cup of tea
and a warm blanket
and if you need anything else,
I am here for you.

In the meantime,
just keep breathing.



May peace and care and deep breaths of healing surround all the people of Paris – and Beirut, and Syria – and all the rest of us who feel a stab of pain today.