Today I was speaking to my parents. The near-term history we have has a lot of fodder for becoming mired in how difficult life can be. There are the typical family issues and conflicts, but there are also many sub-stories of loss, financial hardship and physical challenges. For many families the occurance of any one of the issues we have experienced over the past fifteen years would be enoug to tear the family apart.
Honestly, the family has been pulled and strained greatly. There have been times of not talking to each other, of grand disagreements, and of outright rage. But within the past two years there has been a peace that has been settling over the family — a degree of understanding that each one of us in the family is approaching the events that have unfolded from their own perspective, where each one of us has been experiencing our own pain, and that we need to take the time to not just recognize our own pain, but validate the pain experienced by the others in the family.
Well, though financial hardship has haunted our family in the past ten years, there have always been rooves underwhich to take shelter, food to put on tables, and emotional support from family — even when the distance between family members has been measured in thousands of miles.
So when my parents and I started speaking about the tragedy in Greensburg there was an understanding of how much worse things can be, and, for me, at least, a reminder to re-focus on what is, and to stop focusing on what was, or what could be.
These folks have lost everything except for each other. The AP and other sources have glommed onto the souind bite of the man who has had enough of Kansas and who is going to move to Arizona. But look at the others — they are too traumatized to think about anything else, and concerned about the continuity of their lives.
After all, what is our life outside shared experience? Does a physical dwelling make our life? Do gourmet dinners make our life? Does an exotic european sports car make our life? No. Our life is our memories, our shared experience, our family, our friends, and, well, the love we have for all around us.
The photos, the homes, the wedding dresses, and awards are long gone, but no one can take the memories the residents of Greensburg will always have — the wonderful and the terrible. Let us hope for that the love, and bonds of this small community will allow Greensburg to rise again from the plains. Of course the trauma of yesterday will always be a part of the fabric the shared memories they have, but as Joseph Campbell says, "the human condition is shared misery," and the residents of Greensburg will go on living. As my grandmother used to say, "what choice do you have?"