Just after 7 a.m. Tuesday, I got in my car for a three-minute drive to our neighborhood bagel store. As I moved into the left-turn lane, a many-wheeled truck was lolling the opposite direction past the driveway of the mini-mall parking lot. And then, just as I began to make my left turn, the truck driver suddenly put his truck into reverse, blocking the driveway before I could get through.
I was on the wrong side of the street, perpendicular to traffic, with nowhere to go and a car coming at me at regular speed from about 75 yards away.
I threw my car into reverse in the middle of the boulevard to get out of the oncoming car’s way, and lived to breathe for another day.
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Today in Tucson, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks will gather to play a baseball game in memory of those killed in the January 8 mass shooting in Tucson and to raise money for the Tucson Together Fund, sanctioned to assist victims, families and witnesses of tragedy.
Spirits will be heightened, but I imagine they will also be high. They’ve wrapped this day around a game, after all. It’s going to be a day where life is celebrated, even in death’s immense shadow.
The best antidote to sadness is the argument that things will get better, and short of that, to find happiness in the moments that follow, and short of that, to just find meaning. But there’s no throwing tragedy into reverse. The players and the fans will go home, will go on with their lives. The survivors will go forward into their suffering. They walk a different path.
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My first depression of note came when I was in college, though it was mild by any serious standard. It was over a girl, a girl I never really had but just seemed so perfect. No, not so perfect, but so right. And in order to make sense of why she didn’t want me, I started weighing the conclusion that there might be no reason anyone would want me.
Over the next couple of years, the stakes seemed to increase. I dated, but there would be times a girl would reject me and it would just devastate me, and I truly, truly feared that I was going to spend my life alone. My biggest breakup of all, in my mid-20s, pulverized me. I walked through life with a constant weight in my head for a couple of years. I bought books on depression. I sought therapy. It felt like the end of the world, and yet this was with the full knowledge that no one had died. It seemed so likely to me that things would be worse before they would get better.
People told me that I was being too negative. “You’re a good person. You’ll be fine.” I just had to rebuild my self-esteem, they said. I had to like myself again before anyone else could like me. But they didn’t know. They didn’t know like I did.
Each miserable day seemed eternal, and yet within five years, I did rebuild, and I met the woman I would marry.
You’d think that have taught me a lesson but good, but I can still struggle with a positive outlook, to this day. Despite my best efforts, my household outlives its means, and I cannot seem to find a solution. It weighs on me repeatedly. It doesn’t mean I don’t have happy days in between, but I do worry. My self-esteem rises and falls like the Dow.
Still, people can tell me things will get better, and they might be right.
What are those who lost loved ones in the Tucson tragedy told? What do they tell themselves?
As the Dodgers play baseball in his daughter’s memory, what is Dodger scout John Green to think?
Do they say to live each day in honor of your lost love? Do they say to just live?
This is not a self-esteem issue. The man lost his little girl. There is no going back from that.
And this happens every day, every hour, every minute. I know it has happened to readers of Dodger Thoughts.
It takes a special person to be able to survive this kind of loss. I don’t feel that I’m special in that way. But somehow people are?
I thought about this post as I kissed my daughter goodnight on her forehead last night. I wish I were going to be at today’s game.
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