My last post, from 3 days ago, talks of a recent tragedy, two high school graduates and matriculating college freshmen killed in a drunk driving incident in my area.
Then, yesterday I wrote a new blog post about something different entirely. I was just about the hit the publish button, because I was actually very happy with what I had written, when this feeling in my gut stopped me. At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was. Usually, I’m really excited to finally be able to press on that beautiful, blue publish button with no hesitation. But then, I suddenly thought of my post from 3 days ago and its very devastating topic and I couldn’t let myself do it.
I saw the title of the post I had just written and the last post I published juxtaposed next to each other, “Mr. Antolini” (I had just read Catcher in the Rye again and had some thoughts I wanted to share about the famous Mr. Antolini) and “Let’s Not Make Any More Cautionary Tales,” and something did not feel right.
This recent school year, my junior year, a senior at my high school committed suicide. He had shot himself in the head with a gun. The way that we were informed of this was the next morning during first period in an announcement over the speakers. Our principal, who never makes an appearance otherwise, spoke about the loss. I was in math class at the time and after the announcement was over, my math teacher was unable to continue his lesson. Instead, our whole class sat in silence for 40 minutes until the bell rang signaling to change for second period.
When I walked into the halls, I expected the same kind of despondent, mournful silence that had enveloped my math class to prevail throughout the entire school.
But I was wrong.
Instead, it was as if nothing had just happened. People were laughing and talking and giggling as per usual. There were definitely some people who were crying and people who were walking dejectedly, but for the most part, our school was its normal self.
I was extremely confused.
Then I found out from some of my friends who had different first periods than me that their classes had a totally different dynamic than my math class after the announcement. They told me that their teachers were very sad, but that they continued their planned lessons for the day anyways and only the kids who were crying and knew the student who had passed very well left the classroom and did not continue doing their work.
This was the first time that I realized how differently people move on and grieve difficult situations.
I don’t think that it would have been necessarily wrong of me to just post “Mr. Antolini” and treat “Let’s Not Make Any Cautionary Tales” in the same way that I treat all of my other posts, without consideration about how it must connect with the next post, but personally, I am incapable of moving on in that way.
I don’t have any answers for what is the right way or the best way to move on from a loss, or what moving on even really means, but what I do want to say is do what you think feels right. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t allowed to feel sad or that you aren’t allowed to be okay and/or accept the situation.
Also, I know that it’s really hard to see other people laughing when you’re so sad inside, but everyone has dealt with loss before and, if not yet, unfortunately, will at some other point in their lives, and you are not ever alone for this. Let them laugh and be happy, because you will join them very soon.
And, finally, on respecting those more affected than you: I don’t think you need to write a lengthy Facebook post or blog post to prove your respect to other people. You don’t need to prove anything. This situation isn’t about you. However, if expressing your sorrow publicly what you truly, genuinely want to do, then by all means, go ahead. In general though, just be mindful of your words, as you always should, because you never really know what’s going on in other people’s lives. You are allowed to move on, but just keep in mind that there are many people who have not yet reached that stage, and that knowledge will guide you in making the right decisions.
For me, as a part of my moving on, I’m writing this post and publishing this one instead of “Mr. Antolini” and giving it a few days before I publish anything else unrelated to this current topic. This post isn’t for anybody else and it’s not to prove anything to anyone, it’s just for myself because I felt that I needed closure.
I will continue to pray for the families and friends of those killed or injured by this accident, though, regardless, of whether I have achieved closure.