Monday, December 31, 2012
Noah Pozner: outside the circle
But yesterday Veronique and the girls were running errands and meeting up with friends and I went to have my nails done. I was by myself. I had never been to the place before and knew no one there. It took a while as it often does and the whole time I felt lonelier than I have ever been. As if my whole being was a huge invisible bruise the world couldn't avoid bumping against. I remembered what French writer Anne Philippe wrote after the death of her husband, French actor Gérard Philippe: "J'étais si près de toi que j'ai froid près des autres" (I was so close to you that I feel cold around other people) and I too felt chilled. I couldn't wait to be back in the family circle.
Veronique had it much, much worse. At the bouncing place where she took the girls after their playdate, a clueless young woman (although a mother herself), shared with her some of her wild speculations about what truly happened at the school on the day of the killing. It was horrendous.
But it is only the beginning. As we all venture outside our circles, more situations will arise, temporarily obstructing the path of mourning, already slow and tortuous and full of steep bumps and deep hollows. At the parents' meeting the other day, parents of surviving siblings expressed concern about the schoolbus drivers. Had they all been told whom not to expect on their route or were they going to ask a lone child: "You by yourself today? Your brother/sister not coming?" Had they had some form of coaching to know how to deal with little kids who might be afraid or sad outside their immediate circles of grief and comfort? The holiday season makes it more difficult to get answers and we are all learning, painfully, that there is only so much we can do to protect each other.