Tragic is not a big enough word to describe the death of an intelligent, creative, curious soul such as Dimitri embodied. We, on this earth, will never find the sense in it — why a child who grew up with a loving family in a comfortable home in a safe neighborhood found himself on an irreparably destructive path.
I believe, also, that God does not see the sense in it. All of God’s glorious creation calls out to us to lead us back home to the heart of our creator, where the only thing that exists is love; but so often we don’t hear the call to safety — to love.
How is it that we all exist in this same creation — sometimes in the same neighborhood or even the same house — yet some of us experience a generally joy-filled life, while others are driven to find escape by any means from that very same world? There is no sensible answer, so it’s easy to avoid thinking about it. It’s easy to cross ourselves, saying, “There but for the grace of God go I,” and move along as quickly as possible. Because we’re afraid.
When something happens as senseless as addiction killing an otherwise healthy young man, we shudder to realize that we are vulnerable, too. It’s terrifying.
We are all vulnerable. We all have open wounds — maybe not gaping, but there nonetheless. We have tender spots, where if an appealing quick-fix would present itself, we would willingly give ourselves over the bliss of temporary numbness without regard to the lasting effects (eating and shopping come to mind as socially acceptable — even encouraged — salves). But even innocuous balms that don’t turn into something scary like morbid obesity or bankruptcy, still don’t heal what’s hurting us. They only mask the pain like numbing cream, allowing us to behave as though we’re strong enough to proceed as normal, when in reality the wound is growing deeper and becoming more difficult to ignore.
We all have those wounds, but we’re afraid to say so. We have the misguided idea that sharing our weakness makes us vulnerable; but, like so many truths in life, the cure for our woundedness is paradoxical. It’s when we’re hiding our pain and masking it that we’re most likely to be further injured. When we share our hurts (first with a trusted confidant, then, slowly with others when appropriate) we actually reduce our likelihood of being injured more seriously.
That’s because we are finally examining our own damaged selves to understand more clearly what’s going on, which allows us to learn strategies to live with our hurts in ways that might actually help heal us. It’s also less likely to become a serious wound because when we share our pain we give others a generous invitation to a safe space where they can share the hurts in their lives. And there — there — is where real strength comes from. When we feel safe and not alone, when we are able to journey with each other in our troubles, that is when we are strongest. When we stand, unashamedly, together in our brokenness and pain, we hold one another up. Will we still hurt? Yes. More at some times than at others? Yes. But we’re no longer alone, and the strength we gain from that knowledge can sustain us; and when the person beside us is brought low, our strength will sustain them.
The tragedies in life are senseless, and so many tragic stories begin with a wound we try to keep hidden; but none of us is alone in our brokenness, and none of us is without pain (if we think we are, we’re likely numbing the wound effectively — for now). We only become stronger when we stop hiding, see in ourselves and others our beautiful brokenness, and stand together, unashamed.