During the relay race in Las Vegas a runner giving aid to a team-mate was struck and killed by a drunk driver in the dark and early hours of the morning. I first heard rumors of the event just hours after it occurred but spent a fair amount of time over the next few days learning about the man who was killed. A great man who left behind a wife and three young children.
Just this morning I read about another man in his early thirties who died unexpectedly leaving behind his wife and six darling girls ages nine and under. These two stories are just the most recent I have read but I periodically read the blog of a woman who lost her three year old daughter, a woman whose husband was killed in Iraq from complications of an appendectomy of all things, and a woman who after complications from child labor was left blind and lost both her feet and one hand. These are just a few of the many online journals I have come across relaying chronicles of suffering and bereavement.
I do not understand what appeals to me about these women or their narratives, but the desire is insatiable. I read and read about their lives and their struggles. I thirst for their words of pain and yet inspiration. They all share a similar message: “Live for today, tell your loved ones you love them, appreciate them.”
Yet I can not internalize it. I haven’t really changed anything I do with regard to my family. I do love and appreciate them, but I can’t say that I express it any better after observing the lessons of these incredible women, than I did before I knew of them.
Maybe that is why I am captivated by their trial. I know I need to learn and I pray that I can do so without having to go through such an experience personally.
But what is it about me or, if it isn’t just me, human nature that compels me to search out and pour over what seems to be such depressing material? Is it possible that it is a desire to increase my capacity for compassion and empathy? Or is it a dark and frightening part of me that is satisfied to wallow in pity and despair. If my intent is measured by the actions I take after exposure to tragedy, I am afraid that thus far I have failed.