Every now and then we all wake up to a devastatingly dark day, usually marked by the unexpected loss of someone gone too soon. They’re the days you hug the ones close to you a little bit tighter and hang on a little bit longer while your mind unravels to confusing places. One minute you’re furious at the things it’s too late to change and devastated by the questions you can’t answer, the next minute you’re crippled by the weight of your sadness as it drapes itself over everything you’ve ever known as familiar.
Even when the loss doesn’t seem like it’s ours to mourn, just knowing it belongs to somebody we love dearly can be paralyzing. There aren’t any right words and even a hug can feel like a loaded gesture. After all, superheroes are just like us; they, too, become impossibly fragile when stricken by grief.
I remember, as a child, believing one of the attributes of adulthood was having an impenetrable heart – being immune to heartbreak. I don’t know, looking back, if I assumed it was because their hearts had been broken so many times that they were just unaffected or if I just so strongly associated broken hearts with Disney princesses and princes that I was oblivious to the actual heartbreaking events of adulthood, but – whatever the reason – it’s never more evident than on these dark days that the best gift I can give my kids is that magic of childhood, the delight of unconditional love and shelter from the dark monsters lurking outside of my embrace and, very possibly, in the shadows of their imaginative minds.
Of course, the caveat of childhood is that it doesn’t last forever, but it’s never more evident than on these dark days; even the reminder ‘it doesn’t last forever’ feels futile. Days like today, I want to shake everyone and scream into their faces until they move with fervor to grab the babies, partners and friends their lucky to have within arms length.
Tomorrow – at best – is a hope, more time is never guaranteed and no amount of time is ever going to be enough. Hug those close to you and hang on a little longer tonight because like Joan Didion wrote in The Year of Magical Thinking, “Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”