I am because I can: on processing and moving forward through tragedy
August 5, 2019
You know that quiet, heavy, dragging sadness? The one that sits right in our chest and fills your belly with its weight?
It feels like something waiting to happen, something maybe you should act on but then it makes you so heavy you’re not sure if you can even move.
I feel that today, in my body and in the bodies of my neighbors.
I am fucking heavy.
I am fucking pissed.
And I am fucking sad.
As I type this out in my iPhone notes, writing and rewriting my feelings, I keep flowing in and out of the desire to talk about my pride in Dayton, my frustration with this country, and my gratitude for community and relationships. As I write those things out, however, they still don’t feel right and here is why: I am.
I’ve already said it three times in this post already: I am. I am. I AM.
What a privilege it feels like today just to “be.”
Nine people had their chance to say “I am” taken from them last night. Their names are Lois Oglesby, Megan Betts, Nicholas Cumer, Logan Turner, Thomas McNichols, Derrick Fudge, Saeed Saleh, Beatrice N. Warren-Curtis, and Monica Brickhouse. Twenty more people lost that chance El Paso. Three in Gilroy.
Often one of the hardest parts of dealing with tragedy is working through our ability to be able to move forward and move on while those we’ve lost don’t get the opportunity to do the same. Why do we have to option to continue to still be while they do not?
These were just a few of the many questions I thought about as I left the house this morning. Truthfully, I didn’t know how I was going to muscle through teaching my cycle class when I arrived to the studio this morning. I wasn't sure how I felt about being on that podium, speaking into a microphone to a room of my neighbors, all processing their own blend of hurt and confusion. I was terrified of saying the wrong thing, of saying too much, and of saying to little. We took class song by song, moment by moment. We felt what needed to be felt and we moved in the ways that we needed to. One of the things we talked about was working through heaviness and hardships in our own way as a celebration of the fact that we can and that we still are. Over the course of forty-five minutes, the questions I walked in with that evolved from "how do we move forward at all" to "How do we move forward so that we might continue not just to be but to be a little better, a little kinder, a little more active, and a little more courageous?
I am not sure the perfect way to respond to the events of the weekend. I honesty don’t know how to move on from tragedy at home or afar in a meaningful, productive way but I know that trying to do my best is the only answer. I know the only way to continually honor the 32 lives lost this weekend and those lost in the 250 shootings this year is to be:
to be fucking pissed.
to be fucking sad.
to be a part of what’s happening.
Dayton is one of the most tenacious cities I’ve had the pleasure of calling home. When faced with hatred, loss and struggle, Dayton reacts with action and intention. Larger Ohio cities are asking our underfunded non-profits to come and share their harm-reduction strategies to fight the opioid crisis. National news organizations wrote shares the story of how we stood together and shouted love when hatred asked to parade through the streets. We continue to rebuild and recoup from the storms that threatened to knock us down.
It is already clear to me that August 4, 2019 will not change Dayton. It will not define us. Dayton, we were, are and will continue to be strong. Feel your sadness and your anger, because you can. Grieve because you can.
And then, when you are ready, ask yourself how that “I am” can move forward:
• By calling your senator to demand policy reform (Rob Portman - 202-224-3353)
• By supporting your local ACLU Chapter: acluohio.org
• By donating to the Oregon District’s fund to support victims and their families: http://www.theoregondistrict.org/
• By registering to vote: https://montgomery.ohioboe.com/apps/vtrlookup.aspx