Something’s missing when tragedy touches our life, something is forever lost. Beyond the loss that we openly mourn lay those that no one sees. A lifelong search begins; one we imagine may never end. Tragedy is a heartbreaking loss. It is akin to a search and rescue that becomes a search and recovery operation. All hope is gone for a return to a normality that we knew. What are we searching for, what’s missing?
From time to time we imagine life is boring or predictable; we laugh about it and search for something to add a little zest. Yet there is great comfort in things that remain the same. We grow up, go to work, have families, change jobs and define goals that sit just aside from the dreams we harbor. Days and years remain the same. These are the immutable things we accept as predictable even as we grumble and complain about the lack of change. It is life untouched by tragedy; a thief that steals these things.
What is missing is our peace of mind, waking up each day with an expectation that things will move forward as we planned and worked towards as we grew into our own normalcy in life. Spontaneous laughter, the kind that bubbles up and explodes has departed. It may be years before it emerges from the shadows again. The people we love in our life, those we knew were forever, required little thought about whether they would be in our plans; they were included. Even if there were bumps in the road there was a sameness about the outcome, a predictability. It is all these things that we could count on being the same that are missing when tragedy crosses the threshold, the comforting things we could count on before it arrived. And so we begin the quest to return to a place that was familiar and comforting.
Tragedy is an end run in the game of life. It is unpredictable and unexpected leaving us with no way to prepare for what follows in it’s wake. It is a loss so final we cannot recover what has been taken. Like lightning striking from an unexpected storm, everything has changed. We are looking through eyes that see only what has been lost; there is awareness that we see our world not as it really is but as we have become in the wake of our loss. We are caught like the proverbial wide-eyed deer in the headlights as we search for the way back to wholeness.
Wholeness requires something from us that conflicts with human nature, demanding that we accept the unacceptable. At a time when our faith has been shattered and torn to bits we are asked to have more to make it through to recovery. In some strange way, when we finally give up holding on to what is lost there is nothing but faith left because we can’t see the way; and it works.