When Someone Else Says It Better

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Original Artwork by Allie Brosh

I remember coming across this blog post by the insanely talented writer and artist Allie Brosh when it was first published. Everyone was all, “Allie’s back!” and I was all, “Who’s Allie?” So I started reading, and I couldn’t stop. Plus, she draws, which I can’t do for beans, so I was doubly impressed.

Allie has since had one book published, but I just found out that while her second book was to be published this month, it has been postponed indefinitely. She hasn’t posted a new blog post – or even a new tweet – in years. She kind of disappeared. I hope that she didn’t disappear into the fog of depression again. I hope that wherever she is, she’s happy and snarky and loving it.

I read “Depression Part Two” before I read “Adventures in Depression” (which could have been titled “Depression Part One” if she had known at the time there would be a Part Two.) And while the latter is exceedingly good, the former is really the best explanation of depression I’ve ever read ever ever.

I was talking to a sister-cousin-friend today, trying to explain just this very thing. And then I remembered what Allie wrote. So now sister-cousin-friend can simply read this and know what I was trying to say.

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The Last Time

The last time, there were 350 other people in the room, using up all the oxygen and leaving with me with no breathing room.

This time, there were only my 10 favourite people in attendance, and we were outside in the sunshine.  I breathed deeply and felt the oxygen filling my lungs.

The last time, it was a beautiful snowy winter wonderland.  Just what I always wanted.  And all I wished was that I could bury myself under that snow and never come out.

This time, the sun shone down hot and scorching.  It was sticky, sweaty and almost unbearable.  And all I could feel was the beautiful warmth of it on my skin.

The last time, my hair and makeup were professionally done and turned out perfect.  And I felt like a fraud.

This time, my hair was not what I had in mind and I had to re-do my dreadful “professional” makeup by myself.  And it was perfectly me.

The last time, the food was divine.  There wasn’t a speck of rice left on a plate.  Everyone raved about it.  I couldn’t eat a bite, because I was too choked up with dread to keep anything down.

This time, the food was terrible, and the service was worse.  We sent in a huge complaint letter about it afterward.  And still, it was one of the happiest meals I ever had.

The last time, I paid for drinks for everyone.  All I wanted to do was drown myself in them.

This time, people bought me drinks to celebrate.  And I didn’t need them to feel relaxed and happy.

The last time, all the voices in my head were screaming that I was making a mistake.

This time, the only voice I heard was the one singing a love song in my heart.

The last time, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time.

This time, I knew it was the last time.

Now, I know.

I got up at 4:00am on Friday, to feed my apparently starving to death almost-seven-week old daughter.  She wasn’t starving.  She just screams like she is.

I turned on the tv for company, as I’m apt to do.  And there it was flashing in front of me, the news so fresh and coming in so fast that every couple of minutes a few details changed as they tried to keep up with the influx of information.

Another mass shooting.  This one, the largest in the history of the United States.  At a movie theatre.

I don’t think I had any original thoughts in that moment.  It’s that lack of originality in times of crises, the common grief, outrage, lack of understanding and sorrow that unites us  as a species.

I wondered, like a million others, why he felt the need to hurt people he’d never met.  I felt the rising anger that simmers below my surface over the lack of gun control in the United States – access to weapons of mass destruction in the hands of whomever feels the whimsy safely cloaked behind the words “freedom” and “right”.

My heart leapt out of my body towards the families of everyone in that theatre at that moment – wondering where their loved ones were, and if they were okay.

Then someone said the words.  A baby has been shot.  And I started to cry.

Babies have been hurt in the past.  I heard about it.  It saddened every cell in my body, and made the world grey for a time.  But now I have a baby, and everything is different.

Now my baby had been shot.  I felt every emotion that baby’s mother felt.  I felt her shock. I felt her fear.  And I felt her remorse.  I had no idea who the baby was, and whether or not she was okay.  But in my head, I cried the words to my own baby girl, and the silent father. I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry I brought you here.  I’m sorry I didn’t protect you.  I should have.  It’s all my fault.  Please be okay.  God, I’ll do anything as long as she’s okay.  Please let her be okay.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry. 

I found out the next day that the baby – only a few months old – was treated and released from the hospital, on her way to a full recovery with no memory of what happened to her.  Another child – a beautiful, innocent, six-year-old girl – had a different fate that night.  And I understood in a razor-sharp moment of clarity that in times like these, every child will be my child.  And I’ll have the voice of every mother in my head, begging for a chance to go back and do something different so her child would be safe.  And again, I heard my own mother’s words in my head.  Words she said to me countless times when I was growing up.  When you have a child, you’ll know.  Now, I know.