The New Normal?

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Ever since a lady asked me once if we’d settled into our ‘new normal’,  that phrase has irritated my brain like a rock in my shoe.  I’ve looked for that ‘new normal’ over the last six months and haven’t seen any sign of it yet that I’m starting to wonder if we ever will.  A lot of the time I find myself viewing situations/events/every day happenings with the backdrop of:  if Bernadette were here this moment would probably look like ……. and I catch myself greatly desiring that imagined scenario over the reality before me.

Our whole family dynamic has changed so much that it is hard to find even a sense of normalcy. Catherine goes a lot more places now than she would have if Bernadette were still here and most of the time it is spur of the moment.  Yesterday she jumped in with Joseph when he took their cousin, Maria, to Kelowna.  A year ago she wouldn’t have thought of doing such a thing.  Needless to say, with her gone more, the house is so much more quiet – and lonely.

An even bigger difference that keeps us from feeling ‘normal’ is the fact that we’ve now joined the ranks of ‘other people’.  You know the ones, bad things happen to ‘other people’ but not to us. Now that we’re ‘other people’, I just feel more aware of the possibility that other bad things could happen too, if that makes any sense.  And not just to our immediate family but to all our loved ones.

Last night I sat at the table and listened to Joseph and Catherine recount their trip to Kelowna and Joseph tell us about the music stores he just visited in Vancouver on Saturday and all I could think about was how intensely thankful I was that it was God’s will that they were sitting here telling us about it and not two of the many people injured or killed on the highways, especially over long weekends. A year ago I would have taken their safe travels for granted because tragedies only happen to other people and we were not other people.

One of the downsides of living in vacation country is that we hear so many sirens over the summer and they never cease to send chills up my spine knowing that ‘other people’s’ lives have just shattered.  It happens so fast and far too often around here.  Now every morning I wake up wondering what unexpected turn of events might happen today and every night I go to sleep with a grateful heart that all my children are safely in their beds.  It’s sad that it took a tragedy like Bernadette’s death to recognize each day for the blessing that it is.

The other thing that makes it impossible to feel ‘normal’ again is that since Bernadette’s death we have been living each day with a new awareness that we’re here on this earth temporarily, that we’re just journeying through this land and that it is not home.  It feels almost like being on vacation only all the time.  There is an overwhelming sense of unsettledness about life now because we’re too aware that it can again change on a dime.

Bottom line for me is that ‘normal’ is an illusion that we expect and take for granted until the unthinkable shatters it – forever. After that there is no ‘new normal’, there is just reality.

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