I’ve wondered for months how I would feel when the next person died in the Wisconsin River. When the grip of this seemingly innocuous body of water pulled another unsuspecting human being along and under not letting go. A thief in bucolic clothing whose banks lack the human hand of life saving intervention like those seen at other shores across the nation on universal bright red and white signage.
But today as the wind howls and the rain beats down, it not the Wisconsin river swirling through my forever changed arms. Arms which at times still feel adrenaline’s pulse and pain clenching my heart as well. No, it’s the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota where a family I do not know tries to make sense of their lives suspended in warped time. Existing in shock while at the same time warding off blows. The wait in slow motion to find their beloved. The tangle of bureaucracy and the business side of tragedy. The often inaccurate news coverage sometimes pummeling an additional blow laced with inferred blame. All the secondary traumas, some little and some large, which come as some sort of nasty package deal with any primary trauma.
Slowly the news of this family sunk in today. My brain on grief often not able to comprehend the words before me making me read and read and read again the same sentence or phrase or social media post. I reach out. We, the mother and I, are connected somehow through this seemingly small Lutheran world. I add a prayer to the growing list of prayers on social media.
Melissa, I know your wait, your pain, the fist at the pit of your stomach, and the coldness of your fear. And I pray you are surrounded by who and what you need. And I pray your beloved son feels the strength, hope, and peace of God. And I pray for the tenacity and strength of your responder team.
And as I pray for this family I know my prayers are for us as well. For we are not done with our grief. Yet as we slowly heal our thoughts and prayers mix with those in new pain because now this pain born from dangerous waters speaks to us. Speaks to me as I reach out an invisible hand over miles to strangers sending swift currents of hope, love, and peace.