I am exhausted.
No, it's not from a lack of sleep. I've actually 'caught up' and slept longer and more soundly than usual this weekend. It's emotional exhaustion. It's from a crazy busy few days where the direction I thought I was going got completely spun around in an instant. A few days where what I thought I was going to accomplish 'important' work was unexpected replaced by my accomplishing 'vitally important work'. Ever have that happen to you?
Have you ever thought you knew which way your life was going? You know, you were on the right track. All your ducks were falling into place nicely. You were ticking life's milestones off your list. Graduate from college. Get married. Have kids. Establish yourself in your chosen field of work and in your community. The kids grow and go off to school, get involved in activities and you get settled into a comfortable routine of family life. You were finally where you thought you should be. A comfortable life. Good friends. Good family. Good fun.
And then, in an instant, your world comes crashing down on you. Your life is turned upside down and inside out. Your heart is ripped from your chest and your spirit crushed. You just learned your child (or someone else important in your life) has unexpectedly died. Just like that. You expected them to come home when you sent them off in the morning and you never see them alive again. Can you even imagine what that's like?
I sure as hell hope you never have to.
Yes, this has happened to me. That's not what this blog post is about. It happened to another local family on Thursday. A precious 8 year-old boy, Colby, lost his life to a fallen TV and AV cart at his school. In front of his friends and teacher. I learned of the tragedy late on Thursday evening, after an evening of ballroom dance lessons with my husband. First from a friend, then on the news.
I was simultaneously slammed with two emotions. Profound sadness and empathy for the family because I know what they are going through and it is hell. I wanted desperately to reach out to them. To offer them support. A hug. To help them through what I know the next few days, weeks, months and years will bring their family.
I was also pissed off. Royally. Why is this still happening? Why is the message not being heard? Why the hell are schools still using AV carts with old CRT TV's on top of them? Why do they not know the dangers of TV and furniture tip-over? It's been all over the news, especially TV tip-over. Can people not connect the dots? I know school budgets are what they are but flat screens are cheap and cost way less than a child's life. THIS. HAS. TO. STOP.
OK. Rant over. Sort of. Being that it was late Thursday night, I went to bed, knowing full well if I began to do what I wanted and needed to, I'd not have slept at all. But not until after sending some Reiki love and light to Colby and his family and asking Meg to 'show him around' in the next place.
When I woke up Friday morning, I had planned to complete my documentation for work from Thursday. First, I posted the story on Meghan's Hope Facebook page. Then, I contacted the journalist who wrote about the accident in the local paper, suggesting a follow up story on prevention of tip-over accidents. I also sent emails to all the local TV stations suggesting the same. I searched for information on safety of TV/AV carts in schools on the Web and sent emails to others who might know that information. This led to another idea. I wanted to reach out to the superintendents of our local schools to offer educational seminars to parents on preventing tip over in the home and safety in the schools. I enlisted the help of my Facebook friends to get the names and contact info for their schools/districts.
Then, it was time to focus on family. I got the kids off to school and myself off to a few appointments I had scheduled. I had originally planned to spend the rest of the day working on the curriculum and slides for a class I am currently teaching. Oh, and I had a run planned. None of that ended up happening.
By the time I finished with my dentist appointment, the direction of my day was completely turned around. I had a reply from the newspaper requesting an interview. I had phone messages from two TV stations also requesting interviews. I ran around like a crazy woman tidying up the house for on camera interviews. I had a gazillion email and Facebook messages to read and respond to. I still had those letters to write!
The rest of the day was a whirlwind. TV interview. Telephone interview. Write a letter to our local school principal and the superintendent of the school where the accident happened. Eat 4 tablespoons of peanut butter, with a spoon. Kids come home. I explain what happened, and what was happening with me as a result. We talked about how Meggie saves lives. They thought it was cool 'she' was going to be on TV. Her twin felt sad for Colby and his family. My older son, while also sad, went to hide, along with the cats. He didn't want to be 'caught' on camera. Feed kids. Clean up after them. Answer some email/messages. Photographer for newspaper interview arrived. He left. Had chocolate (it was an emergency!) Another newspaper telephone interview. Quickly followed by another on-camera TV interview. I was starting to fade. It was 6 pm. I'd been at it non-stop all day, for over 12 hours, with the exception of the hour at the dentist.
I sat down at the computer to email a friend. I was hungry. I was exhausted. I was overwhelmed with all I wanted to do to get the word out. I started to cry. Out of the blue. Didn't think I was there. It hit me. Like a ton of bricks. The emotional toll of the day. The re-living of the media blitz after Meghan had died. The fact that it took the death of another child to bring the attention back to prevention. My heart was simultaneously shattered all over again for Colby and his family, for Meggie and our family, and for all the children who have lost their lives to this preventable tragedy and the pain their families endure every day. My heart was also grateful for the media who chose to take this tragedy and follow it up with a story of prevention to save lives. The emotional roller coaster that I am all too used to, and can never get off of, had taken me for a particularly wild ride this day.
Thankfully, my husband showed up with dinner! Other than the snacks I noted, I had not had time to eat all day! We ate quickly and were off as we were late for a dance event. I wanted to keep on working, but I knew I needed a break and to dance out some of that energy. I responded to a few more Facebook messages and emails in car on the way to our dance studio for a party/practice session. My heart was not into dancing. I tried. I was just so drained. We left the dance early. I passed out in the car on the way home from sheer exhaustion.
Saturday was also a bit of a crazy day. My compass still pointing me in a direction different than I thought I would be going. It began by posting the link to one of the TV interviews and responding to messages and emails related to Colby and tip-over prevention. The other one has not yet aired. Maybe it won't. Then I took my youngest to his soccer practice. While there, I finally finished my documentation from THURSDAY's clients. Thankfully, my boss totally understands and supports my work with Meghan's Hope. I also intended to work on those slides but instead, ended up having a lovely conversation with a fellow soccer dad and enjoyed watching my son play. They were having a blast and he was on fire scoring goals. It made me smile. It made me grateful. It made me sad his twin sister was missing this same fun.
I took my son out for lunch. We had a nice date. Then we went grocery shopping together. This kid loves to shop for food! Yes, I had a gazillion other things to do, but right then, he was most important job. Then we stopped and picked up the local paper. Our story was teased on the front page. It was well-written. He read it in the car, he didn't want to wait the 3 minutes to get home. He gets it.
Once home I did a few hours of follow up and catch up. We had a family dinner out to eat. We watched Big Bang Theory together. I fell asleep on the couch. :-)
Here it is Sunday morning. I still have all those letters to write. I am still trying to connect with Colby's family to get some resources to them and will send a card today. I still have those slides to do (they need to be finished by tomorrow night). I need to run. I have to do all my usual Sunday chores. That laundry fairy I asked for has not yet appeared. Bills don't pay themselves. Life goes on. The kids are asking for food again!
My compass is still spinning and pointing me in different directions all at the same time but at least it's not spinning like an F5 tornado anymore. Sadly, the media interest is gone. The moment was seized but it is fleeting. They are on to the next tragic story. It won't stop me. 9 years and I haven't stopped. I won't . Until people get it. Until everyone secures their furniture and TV's. Until kids stop dying from these preventable tragedies. Meggie wants people to listen. I am her voice. You are her voice.
Sometimes life has a way of interfering with your plans. Or maybe you interfere with your own inner guidance. Your inner compass points you in the right direction. It may not be the direction you want to go or thought you would go, but it will show you the direction you should go.
You know what message I'm getting loud and clear? FINISH THE BOOK!
Universe, show me the way. Give me the time. Let's do this.