Do you remember those days where you cry, and cry, and cry and it feels as if suddenly your heart is filled with an ocean, the pressure just pounding on your chest, the only escape through your two small, swollen eyes which let the tears pour out?
I remember crying like that years ago, standing in the middle of the William and Mary University Center, watching the news of the Virginia Tech shooting. The newscasters at that time were only reporting one student had died, but after talking to my mom who lived 30 miles from Blacksburg, I had knew it was more. She had told me it was eight.
Eight students. It seemed so horrible, so gut wrenching. With 20 out of the 25 people in my high school who went to college going to Virginia Tech, I knew, I knew I would know someone who had died.
And so I cried, standing in the middle of the UC watching those TVs. Some kind stranger gave me a hug and slowly the crowd started to grow, watching that TV.
I had a doctor’s appointment an hour later which I cried the entire way through, making the attending physician, who had probably not had much of a break to watch the news, obviously uncomfortable. The number on the screen slowly started to grow. From one to eight to thirteen to twenty to twenty four to thirty two, although somewhere around twenty one I stopped crying. I could no longer comprehend. The ocean in my heart had gone dry.
I see these pictures from Norway and I can barely look at them, barely read the articles. I catch the headlines to enough to stay informed and although I feel guilty not paying greater attention, not feeling their sadness more deeply, I cannot read any more. I see those pictures, and I know that feeling of watching helplessly, of crying until your eyes heart and refuse to produce any more tears. Until your body aches from your muscles shaking so hard for hours on end. Knowing the killer’s name, his twisted motives, or the exact extent of the carnage won’t help me understand any more.
We all know that feeling, from some day some where. I don’t know if I can ever describe the heaviness I felt in my heart waking up the morning of September 12th. Having been too young to experience a hangover, I had nothing to which to compare the cold, heavy, saddened, sober feeling. In a way, my childhood was over. The America, the invincible, never defeated, never anything put perfect America I had been taught about as a child was a lie. People hated us, and they were willing to let us know.
So we cry, because it seems like the only logical thing to do is to mourn a world so full of hate. And we know that no amount of hand holding and kumbayah-ing can change that reality. But on that day when the tears have flown dry, we will stop between the shaking sobs, and began to breathe.