When we were completely brand new to this whole thing, I kept seeing one phrase that summed things up: “The new normal.” When everything changed after Doria’s death, different things became normal. It’s just been striking me the last few days how odd some of those things would have been, but how normal they are. As my comfort zone has been amazingly stretched, I’ve just been reflecting a little on how far its gone.
1. Talking about the death of children is normal now. That never was normal before. As a history guy, and someone that apparently has an eye for troubling subjects, I seem to gravitate towards awkward, disturbing, painful, and troubling subjects. I see a body exhumed and put on trial, and I’m having a good time reading that bizarre story (look up the “Cadaver Synod” sometime). One of my dissertation sources involved a little kitten boiled to death. I was troubled, but pressed on. With that and much more, I never thought that talking about children and death would be normal. That was one bridge beyond where I was prepared to go. My comfort zone is in troubling, but not that troubling.
2. When Doria just comes up in conversation, that’s as normal as can be. Her name came up a bunch of times in a group discussion recently, and it never seemed awkward, just like a normal thing that would naturally come up. It certainly made me grateful to be surrounded by really good people. And it’s nice to hear people say Doria’s name.
3. Encouragement can go the other way. This will be something more detailed tomorrow, but the things that are encouraging in one way cause me to miss Doria more. Any good news can do it, because I can’t share that joy with my little girl, but certain ones can do even more. That’s going to be something that takes some thought and work in the next few months.
4. Bad news is normal . I’m not like for the other shoe to drop, not for a minute. Instead, bad news seems normal in an “of course” sort of way, like “sure, that happened. I believe that without any questions, because that’s just how things go.” I’ve counseled people in difficult times, and even done some crisis suicide counseling. I thought that understanding was part of my life before, but now it’s there in a much deeper way.
5. It’s even harder for future things to make me nervous right now. I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen the worst that life can offer. Nothing else has compared to date, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I’m not normally very nervous about those things, but they barely rate a first thought now. I may be too stupid to be afraid. That’s just an increase to the norm, but it seems to be working well.
This isn’t complete. It’s just a quick though that was striking me as my comfort zone starts to stretch out again. I always knew that life wasn’t completely meant just to be comfortable, but these past 11+ months have been bringing that home in surprising ways to me.