I Get All Depressed

Two years ago, when I was teaching in a tiny town, some of our students were involved in a car accident, and two of them died. It hit our little school hard; it stinks when people who have not yet met their potential are taken away from you in a brutally sudden way. For two days in a row, school closed early so that we could attend their funerals.

This morning, two boys--brothers--were driving to school and got in a car accident. The older brother died mid-morning, while the younger one is still in critical condition (as of the end of the school day).

Some of my kids were devastated, which is to be expected. I could see kids with tear-stained faces walking down the hallways, crowding around each other, protecting each other, comforting each other.

This is when it's hard to be a grown-up, I think. Sometimes I don't like to be the rock, the steady one; sometimes I have an inclination toward freaking out or breaking down. On the other hand, kids need to see someone who is able to stand strong, who can keep it together, because their world has already been rocked; they don't need another earthquake.

Our principal made the announcement over our school television system, though most of the kids already knew. He had been at the hospital when the doctor told the family that their son died. He said that, though they were--naturally--heartbroken, he himself gained strength when the father turned to the mother and said, "He's in a better place now." Then our principal, in spite of numerous warnings from the RHS ACLU Club, quoted these verses from the Bible:

I Corinthians 15:54-55 (NLT)
54 When this happens--when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die--then at last the Scriptures will come true:
"Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"

I like that, that Death will one day be made obsolete, that its power will be diminished. I like that Death is facing defeat, that it will be conquered. (I like when my enemies are conquered).

There are times in my life when I seek out the verses in the Bible that deal with vengeance. When I feel most powerless myself, I turn to God to carry out justice. (Probably God will not be boiling my enemies in oil, or marrying them off to My Annoying Relative, or telling them off in magnificent fashion in front of an audience ... like I would).

And it is hard hard HARD to accept Death right now, to look for meaning or reason. I do hate it when people say, "This happened for a reason," or "Something good will come of this."

If I am the bereaved party, let me just tell you right now, I'm not having it. When you come at me with your platitudes and your "It's all right" and your casseroles, you should know that I am totally not buying it. And I am hating you a little bit at that moment, even though I know you are trying your best.

About four years ago, when I was living in Nashville, someone I was very close to died. I was there by myself, and I was working temp jobs at the time, so I didn't really have anyone nearby to turn to. [I can't talk about this].

Anyway, how I dealt was with drugs. I'm not talking about illegal substances; I went to the neighborhood pharmacy and asked what was the strongest medicine they had that would knock me out for several hours and then bought some. I took twice the recommended dosage and spent the next two weeks in a daze. THAT WAS AWESOME.

Here's the thing: during working hours, I am in a Zone. If I wake up with a headache or cramps or bronchitis, I will forget about them at 7:30 a.m. and, until 3:15, as far as anyone knows, I am in perfect health. Then, once the day's over, I am right back in my pain. It's weird how that mind-over-matter stuff works, but it does, and I'm grateful for it.

When my Someone died, I would go to work, mildly functional, and then come home and drug myself up. As long as I was thinking about work, I was fine. During the twenty minute drive home, I would have a breakdown. Like, literally, I would be a sobbing sodden mess in my car. Then, once I got home and took my pills and entered The Fog, I was okay.

I just don't deal well with Death. It's a [bad word].

Now, these kids that were in the accident today? I didn't know them (fortunately? unfortunately? I don't know). But I know how MY kids reacted to the news, and my heart just broke for my little babies. Watching them is what got to me most, because I do not like to see someone else in pain. Their little crumpled faces and their shocked disbelief made my own eyes well up--for THEM.

How are my kids going to deal? Sure, they're resilient, but come on. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THEIR FRIEND DYING. That's pretty hard to bounce back from. Plus it's not like I can go around telling them about my awesome drugs.

And I don't know how to react in these situations. By nature, I'm not a touch-feely type, so when I'm part of these events that sort of require touchy-feeliness, I'm at a loss. I WANT to show my empathy, but I don't know HOW to, without it sounding all fake. I WANT to comfort them, but I know that most traditional comforting statements AREN'T, and I don't want to toss out these insincere words that don't mean anything. You know?

So. Sunshiny topic, huh?

I looked up I Corinthians 15:54-55, to see how those verses appear in other translations. My favorite is from The Message:

54 Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
55 Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?

I like the sort of in-your-facedness of it, like Paul (I think?) is taunting Death in a schoolyard or something. THAT'S the kind of stuff I can get behind.

Still, it's not as perfect as the Mei Flower Translation, which goes like this:

Suck it, Death.

P.S. Pray for us!

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